Tunkhannock Area High School wants students to know there are multiple pathways to take after graduation.
On Thursday, students gathered in the high school gym for the Post-Secondary Career Pathway Fair, which TA Director of Career Technology Education Greg Ellsworth said differed from past fairs in the sense that two- and four-year colleges and universities weren’t the main focus.
Besides schools such as King’s College, Penn State University and Marywood University, students also had opportunities to speak with representatives from technical schools, certificate programs and local companies looking for apprentices and interns.
Representatives from the Pennsylvania state police and different branches of the U.S. armed forces were also on hand to talk with students about their options in these areas.
Ellsworth said there are always going to be students who choose the route of attending a traditional college, and the school district wants to continue supporting them and the “big and great things” they accomplish.
However, it’s also important to convey that there are other options out there. As director of career technology education, Ellsworth said he often receives calls from local companies looking for candidates to fill apprenticeships, and students can seize these opportunities.
“We don’t want to miss out on that other 50 to 60, sometimes 70 percent of the kids that have great opportunities available to them, but they never had an opportunity to explore them or talk to anybody in those fields,” Ellsworth said.
Additionally, students who go the traditional route may find themselves in debt without solid employment options, Ellsworth said, noting that a lot of colleges are only placing about half of their students who finish school into the job market.
“Whereas some of the technical schools, not only are they retaining 90-plus percent of their enrollment, they’re placing kids at nearly 100 percent right into the job market,” he said.
A “staggering eye opener” for Ellsworth is hearing representatives from technical schools say they see many students coming in who already have college degrees, but couldn’t find a job.
“It’s a shame that we hear that. These kids are now looking to become skilled in something that didn’t happen when they were in four years of college,” he said. “So somebody let them down. Was it the high school? Was it the college? Somebody led them in the wrong direction.”
Casey Manahan, an Army staff sergeant, was at the fair telling students about the Army’s offerings, plus how it could help students achieve their goals and help with college tuition.
“There’s many opportunities that the Army can provide to you,” Manahan said. “When a lot of people think about the Army, they think about it as a combat-type service, but in reality, the Army has over 150 jobs.”
Joseph Smith came to the fair representing Treesmiths, a utility arboriculture and vegetation management company.
Smith provided students with information about career opportunities with Treesmiths, as many are unaware of the local careers waiting for them.
“We have a lot of folks that come to work for us that have gone to college, they have an extensive amount of student loans hanging over their heads, and they can’t find a job in their industry that they went to school for,” he said. “They find out this is a really good career.”
TA students Lane Repsher and Sydney Barbini attended the fair Thursday morning and agreed it was both educational and informative.
The fair also gave them a better idea of their future plans.
“It’s a good way to get students to start thinking about their future careers,” Repsher said. “I have a bunch of things that I’m thinking about and the list is now expanding after coming here.”