By Elisa Ferrell
District 3 Huntsville City Schools
I celebrate a birthday this month. When I reflect back, I truly cannot believe time has passed so quickly. When I was a child, it felt like time moved like molasses. It felt like I was going to be at the kids table at Thanksgiving forever! Now I look back and my youngest is 20.
I still remember bringing him home from the hospital, the sweet offerings of a shared and sometimes mushy Ritz cracker, and all the elementary, middle, and high school trips and field trips. Those baby years are filled with long days and sometimes sleep deprived nights. In hindsight the years fly by and your child in cap and gown grinning from ear to ear before you know it. You blink your eyes, and they are taller than you and figuring out their place in the world.
As parents it is our job to prepare our kids for what comes next. That could be college, the workforce, or the military. Your child may be preparing to leave elementary school and move into middle school, so this feels like light years away, but it is coming faster than you think. Which direction do you think your child will take?
If your child is thinking of college, it is time to plan. At the University of Alabama a full-time student’s yearly tuition and room and board, along with indirect costs, things like books and transportation, is estimated to be $31,054. At Auburn those costs are estimated at $33,650. Four years at either of these universities is $124,000+. Get on the websites, look at the scholarship opportunities. Talk about ACT scores and ACT prep. Let your student participate in the research and figure out what needs to be done to get additional financial help for those costs.
What about the workforce? Is that something your student may consider? Last year Huntsville City Schools students earned over 600 certifications recognized in the work force. Certifications in disciplines like Drafting, Government and Public Administration, Health Services, Precision Machining, Network Services, Interior Design, Marketing, Business Management, Heavy Equipment, Heath Science, Patient Care, Welding, and more! Look at our career tech offerings and see if there is something of interest for your student. Even if they are college bound these marketable skills will help them for years to come.
Is your student thinking about a military career or going to one of the military academies? I strongly encourage involvement with the JROTC. The programs in our system are all excellent and provide many opportunities for student growth. Every year at graduation we celebrate those students who have either enlisted or are attending a military academy. We appreciate their willingness to serve our country.
One of the middle school principals posted a meme “your life can’t go according to plan if you have no plan.” Sit down with your kids. Make a plan, maybe even make more than one plan. Don’t let it sneak up on you. For more information on options after high school, speak with your counselors. They are all eager to help.