Expanding Options After High School

CDI is committed to exposing students to a range of options for life after high school. It’s critical that we offer career exposure and preparation in tandem with college preparation services, because a traditional college pathway immediately following high school is not the only or best path for all young people.

CDI staffers Hattie Hill, Director of Post-Secondary Services at Manhattan Comprehensive Night & Day High School and Ashley Falzone, Employment Coordinator at City-As-School and The High School for Health Professions and Human Services discuss their work introducing students to a range of post-secondary options.

Hattie Hill (L) and Ashley Falzone

Hattie: Our job is to open up the world of possibilities for students. They have many alternatives they can explore other than either an Associate or Bachelor’s degree or working at McDonalds. You can do a training program for six months and start getting a good paycheck while you think about when or if college is what you want to do. Basically, if you don’t want to go to college, can’t go to college, or can’t go to college right away, we’re here to give you the best information and connect you to your other options for life after high school. Our role is to be a connector.
Ashley: And if you think college isn’t right for you now, it doesn’t mean you’re never going to go to college.
Hattie: Exactly. We have honest conversations about the 45-50 hours a week time commitment that is college. A lot of students don’t have a clear idea of just how much time college takes up – that they can’t work a job and take on a full course load. This is less to do with their abilities, and more just a matter of how many hours are in a day. So many of the young people we serve need to work while they’re in college. At MCNDHS, where there’s a 70% immigrant population and a lot of our students have very adult responsibilities, knowing the range of options is very important.
Ashley: We also make sure that they understand that the other kinds of training are also a commitment. You need to put in the time and effort.
Hattie: And once you’ve been a part of CDI, these doors are always open to you. You can always come back and see us.

Looking Forward to This Year

Ashley: HPHS has traditionally had a college-going culture, and students are just beginning to recognize that college is not the only option. I’ve been building a lot of good relationships with programs around the city and compiling them into a vocational database that doubles as a tracking tool for students. Making our students aware of all the possibilities is the most important part of the job. I’m going to use every month in this new school year to focus on a different post-secondary option – October on civil service, November on the military, etc. Students really want jobs while they’re in high school, too, so we’re going to do a lot of sessions where we focus on going on open interviews at places like Chipotle or Just Salad, or how to fill out online job applications.
Hattie: With open interviews we’re helping students skip a step where they could potentially be discriminated against because of the names on their résumés, or a myriad of other reasons. I’m really looking forward to helping our students learn how to network. Often because they don’t have the social capital or networks middle class kids have, they rule out the networks they do have – like their peers who are working, their places of worship or community events. We want to give them tools to navigate a very confusing system. We’re also building partnerships with outside organizations like Pratt and NYU, which both offer free programs in art, architecture, photography and more if our students want to explore that world of options. It’s an exciting time here!

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