Editorial: Teach us skills for life, not college

Correction: The printed version of this story proposed that Shorewood should teach students how to pay bills. This is a part of the curriculum for Financial Literacy & Economics, a course required for graduation.

At some point, all high school students must decide what they want to do after they graduate. SHS does an impressive job of providing students with resources to help them choose where they want to go to college. However, Shorewood students are often left unknowledgeable and unprepared for any alternative paths, such as entering the military, a trade, or the workforce directly after graduation. Although the vast majority of Shorewood students will end up going to college, SHS should at least recognize that college might not be the right path for everyone, and most importantly, help and prepare these students in an appropriate manner. 

Academic classes at SHS operate largely based on the assumption that students will attend a four year university after they graduate. Teachers commonly use phrases, such as “This material will prepare you for college,” or “Whatever you decide to pursue post-college.” For students who do not want to attend college, this narrow viewpoint disconnects and disengages them from their high school education. If we say that academic courses only have value to those pursuing college degrees, a student who doesn’t want to follow this path might not see any reason to engage with their education. And, even for those who are interested in attending university, treating high school simply as a way to achieve an end goal of attending a selective college is problematic. This view of our academic journeys deters learning for the love of learning and instead encourages students to learn with constant stress just to increase their chances of going to a good university

This narrow viewpoint disconnects and disengages [students] from their high school education.

This problem is furthered by the classes that SHS offers. Shorewood has discontinued its Home Economics and Shop classes, facing community pressure to focus more on Advanced Placement (AP) classes, opportunities for standardized testing and academic rigor. As a result, students have fewer opportunities to discover and develop their own passions, which could leave them unsure of their path if it doesn’t include applying to university.

The emphasis on going to a selective college has resulted in stigma around decisions that don’t involve a standard four year university. Attending technical school, community college, or even a four year university in Milwaukee can be seen as undesirable choices, when many peers are aiming for prestigious out-of-state schools. This stigma is furthered by the lack of information SHS provides about alternative options to a four year college. College representatives from schools all over the country visit SHS multiple times a week during the college application season. We’ve been lectured since elementary school about choosing a major and a career. But we rarely see parallel opportunities for other post-graduation paths. Providing more insight and education on post-graduation choices other than attending a four year university could reduce the negative attitude towards non-college trajectories, and help more students achieve the future they want.

Shorewood, as a school district and as a community, should provide a more holistic education in post-graduation opportunities.

Shorewood’s resources are definitely beneficial for students who want to attend a standard four year university. However, it is important that the school improves its resources for the students who are thinking about other options. Teaching students skills for life outside of college, like cooking, shopping for food, handywork, managing free time and making healthy decisions would be beneficial. Volunteering, internships and work experiences should be rewarded for people who want them.

Writing this article as the editorial staff of the school newspaper, we recognize that we ourselves are students who resonate with academic pursuits, who plan to apply to college, and who value the opportunities we receive in school, such as AP classes, college credits, and other academic pursuits. Even so, we recognize the undeniable value of a more well rounded education that helps students regardless of the path they choose to take after high school. Shorewood, as a school district and as a community, should provide a more holistic education in post-graduation opportunities so that students have a greater knowledge base from which to make choices for their futures.