Students talk of college plans and making important decisions

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Senior year can be a tough one for high school students or one where they seem to coast -- it's either a year of scrambling to make college choices or a time when everything you've worked for seems to finally fall into place.

Several area students answered questions about how their final year of high school is shaping up, and talked of college and what their future holds.

John Volkerding, a student at Saxony Lutheran High School, said things feel different as a senior. "This is the first year I can't look up to anyone older. Instead of me wanting to hang out with the older kids, it's the younger kids wanting to hang out with me."

Jordan Cox, a Jackson senior, said, "When I was a sophomore all the seniors said it would be different and now it is. I don't feel older than everybody else." He also said it doesn't seem like he should be getting ready to leave.

Being a senior suddenly means you have a reputation -- younger students know of you whether or not you actually know them, he said.

But one good thing about getting to be a senior is the ability to set the standard for younger students. Peer pressure doesn't seem to be as much a consideration by senior year. Sure there's the power of persuasion, but Volkerding said it's not as much as people might expect. "The older I get, the less peer pressure affects me. It was never too tough to stand up for myself when I was younger, but now it's not even a struggle."

Hannah Winningham said things still seem the same socially but the changes come in academics. "I'm ready physically for college, but not mentally. I still need to learn a lot more," she said.

Volkerding thinks teachers seem to expect more because they know college is "right around the corner."

Cox agreed. Teachers "expect us to be totally on top of the game." He said that's been good for helping prepare him for college, but it also makes him nervous about making little mistakes. "By now I should be able to handle these, and teachers expect more because of our experience and responsibilities."

Deanna Leible thought her senior year would feel a little more special and come with a few more privileges. It's not that teachers expect more, "but they push harder and try to get us better prepared for college and situations we'll face in college."

Most of the students interviewed by the Southeast Missourian said they felt fairly well-prepared for college, but know they'll find challenges once they head to campus.

Cox enrolled in a college preparatory class at Jackson High School, which helps students with making decisions and meeting deadlines for applications.

"It's been nice to have that class so the deadlines are forced on me," he said. Without them, it would be easy to lose track of which forms were due when, he said.

Leible said she is ready for college; she's already been accepted to Concordia College in Steward, Neb. "I think I'm prepared but I just wonder if it will be that well." Having already decided on a college and earned her admittance takes off some of the pressure other students are feeling. "I've got a big part of it out of the way," she said.

ljohnston@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 126

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