Laconia High School had the pleasure of hosting the New England and Beyond College Fair in our gymnasium on October 24th. Students in our sophomore, junior, and senior classes interacted with over 40 college and university admissions counselors, as well as military recruiters from 4 branches of the armed services.

The decision our students make upon graduation is a big one and consequential in setting the path for their young-adult lives and beyond. The statistics on the importance of making the right decision bear acknowledging. It is widely known that earning power and opportunities increase for an individual as his/her education increases, but the cost of that education has skyrocketed to an average reported cost of attending college to $20,770 per year for public universities and $46,950 per year for private universities and colleges. This has led to an increased level of student debt, which was recently reported to be, on average, $36,367. Students need to consider the impact of the decision to attend a college or university from an emotional and financial perspective.

The professional staff at Laconia High school take great pride is working to help equip our students with the information and experiences necessary to make informed decisions about their future choices. To do this, LHS provides a comprehensive college and career program to all students, with the recent college fair being only one aspect of this programming.

This comprehensive programming begins during their freshmen year, with students participating monthly in an activity called Counselor Connection. In this activity, all 9th graders are meeting with their school counselor in a small group in order to build a relationship with that counselor and to create a four-year academic plan. Each student builds this individualized four-year plan, which creates a roadmap of courses he/she plan on taking at LHS and is based around the student’s academic and career goals. Many LHS-based activities go into creating these plans such as reviewing the program of studies to learn about course offerings, attending department fairs, and gaining greater information about offerings at the Huot Technical Center.

College and career preparation continues through sophomore and junior year. During this time, students are further exploring career opportunities and considering important aspects of potential jobs, such as the degree(s) needed, what the job entails, what the salary may be, etc. College searches are important during this time, with students using online platforms to narrow down choices, as well as making college visits and taking tours. Junior year wraps up with individualized student/parent meetings with the student’s school counselor to discuss an action plan towards achieving the student’s post-secondary goals. Senior year brings all of the college and career preparation together by offering individualized supports to submit college applications, connect with recruiters, and locate employment for those looking to enter the workforce directly.

In addition to these programs, all students are completing lessons in the Naviance College and Career Readiness platform, which includes lessons on various topics from how to organize your time to how to search for scholarships. Students are also taking interest inventories which connect the activities they enjoy doing to possible career paths. Additionally, LHS facilitates four presentations annually from the NH Higher Educational Assistance Foundation. These are open to all students/families and provide expert information on the college application process and financial aid-related matters.

It is our hope at LHS that, armed with the pertinent information, our students and families can make the right decisions for their next phase of life: college, military, work, or service. By instilling a strong sense of sense, a foundation of knowledge, the ability to problem-solve and think critically, and the belief that they can make a positive impact on the world, LHS empowers our graduates to make informed decisions to take their lives in the direction of their dreams.

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Written by Mollie Greeley, Director of School Counseling at Laconia High School.

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