ASHVILLE — Taking a break from traditional instruction, Teays Valley gave students the opportunity to learn more about potential careers and how to get the required training during College & Career Day this year.
Teays Valley has put the event on for five years that gives freshman and sophomores the chance to take the pre-ACT, juniors a chance to speak with people in different careers and seniors the opportunity to go on a college visit or job shadow.
Julie Samlow, high school guidance counselor, said she wanted to create a safe environment that’s less nerve wracking for juniors ahead of their outside visit in the professional world as seniors.
“They’re all together and having the same experience in their high school, which is a safe environment,” she said. “Students get nervous when they have to walk into a business by themselves. Our goal is to develop that in the professional environment this year and then they have more confidence for next year to ask if they can job shadow somewhere.”
Samlow discussed how students can hear about the professional’s journey and where those adults started and are right now.
“Sometimes at the age of 16 we don’t know that we’re going to grow up and be a social worker,” she said. “I wanted the students to resonate with the fact that every journey is different.”
Samlow gave herself as an example when she started out in fashion design and has a master’s degree in marketing.
“I did some volunteer hours with junior achievement and ended up loving teaching, which is how I ended up as a school counselor,” she said. “I want them to know that your journey doesn’t matter, so long as you’re growing as an individual and moving forward.”
Samlow noted how many seniors have already narrowed down their list of potential colleges.
“A lot of them are doing their final visit,” she said. “They’re down to their top two or three schools. I tell them in the fall to do one final visit to make sure that’s where they’ll be happy for four years.”
Samlow said the day was huge for the students to check in on their next four years.
“Some students will come back and find something that’s what I call a deal breaker,” she said. “They went back and didn’t remember that it was that small or the buildings were old. The beauty of this event is that the deadlines aren’t usually until Dec. 1, so we can still get them applied someplace else and get their transcripts in.”
For the students who go on job shadowing, Samlow said one student was shadowing a surgeon and another a neurologist.
“They were not allowed to job shadow parents,” she said. “Some of them who wanted to be a teacher we told them they knew what Teays Valley was like, so we connected them with schools at Grove City and Canal Winchester to see what that experience is like.”
Students also heard from a panel of former students that were taking different paths following their graduations from Teays Valley.
“We have a variety of different alumni who are going to community college, mid-sized schools, regional campuses, the big Division 1 schools and the small private schools,” Samlow said. “They hear how each one of them is different and how they chose that. One of my students coming in has switched schools twice. I want them to find that if it’s not right to not give up and when you hit a wall push forward.”
Samlow said she’s received feedback from students who have done the program, including the Class of 2014 who were presenters at this year’s event.
“My college panel is here and they’re all sophomores or juniors in college or graduated last year,” she said. “Some juniors were saying how nervous they were in classes yesterday and might not show up and our teachers reported our seniors told them they had to go.”
Teays Valley, like many of the school districts in Pickaway County, hosts several events to help students discover opportunities in the community. Among the things the district does is make students aware of nearby schools, bus tours to Ohio State, Ohio University and Otterbein.
“The whole point is exposure and letting them know they’re not that far away and it’s not as difficult as it seems,” Samlow said. “It’s to give them that confidence. We’re hidden down here, so it’s about getting their confidence level up.”