Preparing for the Future with College and Career Day

College and Career Day held panels for those who wanted to learn more about their futures. Students gathered in the Performing Arts Center to gain a better understanding of tools that would help them in their future, including the ability to take care of themselves and possible careers that they may want to pursue.

Art/Photo by Christopher Huston

College and Career Day held panels for those who wanted to learn more about their futures. Students gathered in the Performing Arts Center to gain a better understanding of tools that would help them in their future, including the ability to take care of themselves and possible careers that they may want to pursue.

Sarah Han, Staff Writer

   As the due date for college applications approaches, students face anxiety surrounding the college admissions process and their future careers.  Many don’t know what to expect or how to prepare for it. West High School’s College and Career Day looked to solve this very issue. On October 16th, students came to school expecting to do something a little bit different from their normal classes. In fact, different activities were planned for students of all grade levels, ranging from listening in on short lectures to taking standardized tests.

   As school counselor Mrs. Garcia describes, College and Career Day is a day during which counselors “try to expose students to different careers, colleges, and the kind of mindset of thinking about future plans.” Freshmen experienced Naviance (a software designed to help students choose their colleges and careers), and fun crafts. Sophomores took the PACT, and Juniors took the PSAT, both which are standardized practice versions of tests that some colleges require for admissions. Finally, seniors took panoramic photos and participated in workshops that helped them focus on their college applications, or other post-high school plans. 

   Although College and Career Day is an annual event, the Freshmen experienced something different this year. Instead of visiting nearby colleges (such as UCLA, USC, or Cal Poly Pomona), they spent an hour listening to presenters talk about different aspects of leading a successful highschool and college career, and began working on the search for possible future jobs. Students were separated into groups that took part in different activities that day. Ryan Je’s (9) day began by taking a Naviance quiz on possible career paths and working on his college résumé, followed by a presentation on self care and mental health, a workshop about staying safe on social media, and a short time for coloring and crafts. The day seemed to have been very productive, as Je claims that the Naviance section “opened [his] eyes a little bit on what [he] might want to do in the future.” He also praised his other panels, claiming that they all taught him things that he could take away and utilize in his future. He expressed, “I could personally carry everything from today forward since mental health, self care, and online safety are all applicable.” Ultimately, Je felt as if he could “use the resources that were given to prepare for [his] future,” and become more ready for what may be ahead. 

   College and Career Day was filled with very different events for the Sophomores and Juniors. They were all assigned to take the PACT and PSAT in order to prepare for the real ACT or SAT that students may take in the future. Although UC and Cal State schools no longer view either test as mandatory towards admissions, taking the test could still be beneficial to many of the students. For example, all juniors who took the PSAT would be qualified to earn a National Merit Scholarship, which would award thousands of dollars in scholarships to students who scored very high on their test. Not only that, but the school’s counselors acknowledged that the constantly changing system of standardized testing made the future unpredictable. Mrs. Garcia stated that “[they] had to give sophomores and juniors that test because [they] don’t know what the future is going to look like,” and that the testing portion of College and Career Day “may change based on what colleges end up doing in the future.”

   After their class panoramic photo, Seniors spent the rest of their day in workshops. Mrs. Garcia explained that some seniors spent the day working on their college applications, and hopefully “walked away with a sense of productivity.” They had informational sessions for any future that students were interested in pursuing, with special El Camino informational sessions for those interested in pursuing a two year degree, speakers who taught about careers that could require further education, and a different panel with presenters who taught about careers that didn’t require college degrees. Mrs. Garcia expressed that she wanted to “be mindful of the fact that not everybody has the plans of going to a four year college, and wanted to make sure that [students] could tap into both career opinions as well as college options.’ 

   As students get closer and closer to their futures, West High’s team of counselors and administrators try to prepare them for whatever that future may look like. From mental health to writing college applications, College and Career Day covered a range of aspects of success, and taught students to feel more ready for what was to come.