Indiana University Northwest, in conjunction with the Center of Workforce Innovations and 21st Century Scholars, welcomed approximately 500 students from all across the Northwest Indiana area to the 2007 Youth Summit on Feb. 7. There, students from Hammond, East Chicago, Crown Point, Gary, Morgan Township, Washington Township and elsewhere attended college-search workshops, chatted with local employers, and took time to focus their thoughts on the future.
Rob Russ, a presenter with Making It Count, an educational subsidiary of Monster.com, talked with students about the importance of establishing useful criteria when deciding what college to attend. Making It Count presents college-search workshops and other seminars geared toward helping high school students make the most of their educational careers.
“Finding the right school, figuring out how to get in and then paying for it, all can be a little stressful,” Russ told one of four student groups he spoke to during the event. He cautioned students against selecting the first college that accepts them or appears to offer a good deal, encouraging them instead to launch a broad, though targeted, search.
“If you were getting ready to buy a car, you would want to take it out for a test drive before you bought it. I can make the argument that picking a college is a lot more important than picking a car, right?” he said.
Russ cited four important elements that should make up any student’s college-search criteria: strength in field of study; the availability of financial assistance; the availability of learning opportunities outside of class; and the importance of quality over price.
Russ illustrated this final point by quoting a recent study that showed the average salaries of graduates from the most elite schools were the same as those of people who’d been accepted to elite universities but who chose to attend other schools, instead. Russ further bolstered his argument by telling students that “Star Wars” creator George Lucas began his college career at Modesto Junior College in Modesto, California.
“Successful people come from everywhere,” Russ said.
One consideration not found in Russ’ college-search criteria was party-school reputations. He urged students to base their college decisions on their interests, goals and other substantive factors.
“College is a real expensive way to find great parties,” Russ said.
After one of his presentations, Russ commended the student groups that assembled at IU Northwest for the Youth Summt program.
“They’ve been excellent,” he said. “There’s been a lot of enthusiasm, and they’ve asked great questions.”
In addition to the Making It Count presentation, students had the chance to attend career-planning workshops and also to speak with local employers about what it takes to land jobs in those industries. Participating companies included UPS, Chase Bank and U.S. Steel, among many others.
U.S. Steel representative Michael Smith said that many of the students who inquired about that company asked first and foremost about the salary. They also asked about the level of education necessary to work there. Students were told that a job on the operations side of the company requires at least a high school diploma, while a position in management requires a four-year college degree. Smith said events like the Youth Summit allow U.S. Steel to make young people aware that career opportunities in the steel industry do exist.
“What this allows us to do is talk to these students at an age when they haven’t yet decided on a career path, and get them thinking about what it will take to avail themselves of a job in the steel industry and promote through in that industry,” he said.
Wednesday’s Youth Summit wasn’t just geared toward students. Guidance counselors and other education professionals who accompanied students to the event also attended seminars. One of these, presented by Daniel Kreidler of Joliet Junior College, focused on the benefits of dual-credit courses, courses taken in high school that also qualify students for credit at a participating college or university.
Kreidler said that JJC has had success with dual-credit courses because they allow students to get an early jump on their college career and to save tuition costs on low-level classes they otherwise would have to take in college. He emphasized, however, that dual-credit classes usually are reflected on a student’s college transcript, and Kreidler said that young people should take such classes seriously or not take them at all.
“Be very upfront with them about the ramifications of this decision,” Kreidler told the counselors in attendance. “If they blow off the class, it could follow them throughout their college career. If they get a D in the class, they will have that D on their college transcript. It could even affect their ability to get financial aid.”
Wednesday’s event was the fourth consecutive Youth Summit held at IU Northwest. It’s an occasion for area high school students to visit a local university campus and talk with counselors, employers and other knowledgeable people about how to plan for their futures in education and in the workplace. IU Northwest is proud to offer this annual event to high schools and their students in Northwest Indiana.