Senior Day helps St. Francis students map out plans

Staff Writer
Since 2013, I have primarily covered the Anoka-Hennepin and Spring Lake Park school districts as well as the city of Spring Lake Park for ABC Newspapers.


Though graduation seems a long way off for the class of 2017, it is already time for senior Saints to plot what their next steps will be.

Seniors at St. Francis High School meet with counselors to go over future plans and ensure they will be ready to graduate this spring. Photo by Olivia Alveshere
Seniors at St. Francis High School meet with counselors to go over future plans and ensure they will be ready to graduate this spring. Photo by Olivia Alveshere

Senior Day at the high school Oct. 25 brought in various college and military representatives to answer students’ questions about life after high school.

While postsecondary planning is in full swing now, it began well before Senior Day; work has been ongoing since students started high school.

Naviance has been a tool St. Francis students have used for the past eight years.

“It’s just a really great college and career research site,” said Dawn Abraham, career adviser at the high school.

Students can take a variety of assessments to determine which careers might satisfy their interests and skill sets.

Additionally, the online tool allows students to show interest in particular colleges and compare GPAs and standardize test scores to other St. Francis students who have been admitted there, weighing their odds.

While it is too soon to tell where students from the class of 2017 may end up, the percentage of St. Francis seniors going on to four-year colleges has sat pretty consistently around 45 percent in previous years, according to Abraham.

In 2016, 46 percent of seniors reported that they were planning to attend a four-year college in the fall and another 27 percent reported that they were bound for a two-year college. Another 8 percent said they intended to study at another type of institution, for example culinary school. Six percent of students signed on to serve in the military, and 4 percent of students were planning to take a year off after graduation. One percent of students were headed for the work force, and 8 percent reported other plans, most unspecified, according to Abraham.

“Overall, we have seen an increase in college attendance over the last few years,” she said.

Last year, the most popular colleges students from the class of 2016 said they would attend were the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, University of Wisconsin–River Falls, University of Minnesota Duluth, St. Cloud State University and Minnesota State University, Mankato.

The number of students earning college credit before graduation also continues to rise.

St. Francis High School offers four two-trimester Advanced Placement courses: AP Statistics, AP European History, AP Language and Composition and AP Literature and Composition. If students score well enough on an examination in the spring, many colleges furnish them with credits.

Through agreements with St. Cloud State University and Southwest Minnesota State University, St. Francis High School offers 13 classes that provide both college and high school credits.

Students also can also take courses on college campuses through participation in Postsecondary Enrollment Options. Of the students that participate, most drive to Anoka-Ramsey Community College, but some students attend several other area colleges.

“We have a real strong PSEO program,” Abraham said.

Students in the class of 2017 were feeling confident after cycling through various Senior Day stations last week.

While he doesn’t know what he will major in yet, senior James Green is looking to attend a four-year college and play baseball, he said.

During Senior Day, he essentially finished his applications.

“It made applying easier,” Green said. “I felt more confident I did it correctly.”

With Senior Day falling during College Knowledge Month, some application fees were waived at schools across the state, Abraham said, noting that the application process has changed dramatically even since she started working at St. Francis High School 10 years ago.

The days of college brochures and pamphlets littering her desk are no more; now everything is online, according to Abraham.

By Senior Day, Kayla Medenwaldt had already completed her application to Dunwoody College of Technology where she hopes to study radiologic technology.

Medenwaldt said an elective class called Future’s Prep Finale that she took as a junior really helped her to know what she wants in a career and in subsequent educational experiences.

Senior Dylan Martineau spoke with Scott MacKinnon, a U.S. Army career counselor, during Senior Day. Martineau has been considering for some time joining the Army or Marine Corps.

MacKinnon encouraged him to “explore all your options.”

Military service is a great option for students who don’t know how they are going to pay for college, MacKinnon said. Many education benefits come with military service.

Paying for college was a topic during senior day with information on scholarships and student loans.

Financial Aid Night is scheduled for Nov. 7 at the high school.

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