Leaving the Den

  • Emma Haas, ’20

Many people refer to high school as the greatest years of their lives, but all great events must come to an end eventually. Something that starts looming over students’ heads, particularly around junior year, is what on earth to do after high school. And, while that thought is a little horrifying, there are way more options than most students think. 

There’s the classic straight-to-college route, but there are also tons of paths to take for those who aren’t too keen on the idea of four more years of school. Many students take a gap year and travel to other countries or do volunteer work. Others go to a trade school, so they can go into the workforce. Some go straight into the military, and then might go to college later. 

The important part is to remember that it doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing or what someone thinks they’re expected to do; what matters is what you think is the best option that will lead to the most success. We asked four seniors with different plans for what they want to do.


Aaron Lawrence plans on attending Cornell University in New York.  


What made you decide to go straight to college from high school?

I wanted to attend college straight from high school because it wasn’t a thought for me to take a gap year, and I felt that it’s just best to get started because if I put it off, I would be less motivated.

What factored into choosing where you want to go?

What mainly affected where I want to go were mostly choosing a college that was good for my major, and the environment around the school. Cornell has a really good engineering program, and I want to study environmental engineering with a potential concentration in sustainability.

What do you plan on doing after college?

I’m not exactly sure what I would like to do after college, but I do know that I want a career where I’m not stuck in a building, and can go out and do research and interact with other people to help better our interaction with the environment as humans.


Cailyn Araiza wants to take a gap year to travel to different countries in Europe. 


Why do you want to take a gap year?

I wanted to take a gap year because I’ve wanted to travel my whole life. College will always be there, but I don’t know when I’ll have another opportunity to travel like this, so I’m going for it now. 

Where do you want to travel to?

I want to go to Europe because it has diverse cultures all throughout and is the easiest place to go backpacking. I’m not completely sure which ones yet, but my plan is to pick one country to live in each month, so I can focus on learning about that specific country, and travel outside to closely bordering countries for a few days at a time.”

What is planning a gap year like?

It’s honestly more stressful than planning for college because I have to plan an entire year moving across the world and figure out where I want to go and what I want to see because I can’t do it all in one stretch. I have to plan how I’m going to get money when I’m there and where I’m going to stay once I’m there. There are some jobs I might do, like teaching English and nannying where you’re given a place to stay and get paid, and I would still be able to explore in my free time.

What would you like to do after your gap year?

I’ll probably move back to California where I lived until eighth grade and live with my family. I want to go to community college, then transfer to a university, probably UCLA.


Cody Biggs is joining the military and hopes to become a Navy SEAL. 

Why do you want to go into the military?

I really want to go into the military because it gets me out of Maryland and on my own, so I won’t have to rely on anyone but myself. 

Why the Navy, and why the Navy SEALs specifically?

The training to become a Navy SEAL is some of the hardest in the world, so if I can make it through that I can get through anything and will be with a group of other highly motivated people.

Do you want to go to college after the military?

I might go to college after, but at the moment college isn’t really in my mind.

How did you go about joining?

It wasn’t too difficult. I got the phone number for a Navy recruiter from my guidance counselor.


Owen Bradford is planning on going to trade school to become an electrician.

Why did you choose to go to a trade school?

To be entirely honest, I haven’t done the best in high school and don’t really want to be stuck at community college because I don’t really like school in general. But I still want to be successful, so I decided I wanted to learn how to be an electrician.

How did you find out about trade schools?

I was talking to my dad about what I could do after high school since college didn’t seem like an option, and he brought up going to a trade school, so we started looking and found one in Atlanta that I can go to.

Why do you want to be an electrician specifically?

A lot of jobs like being a banker or working in an office are getting taken over by computers, but something like an electrician is a job that can never really end up like that. It’s something that people will always need, so I won’t really have to worry about not having a job.

What lead you to choose trade school over college?

Kind of like I already said, I guess school isn’t really the best thing for me, and most of the jobs you learn in trade school are jobs that will always be needed so I don’t have to worry about getting replaced by a machine.


So many students are under the impression that everyone has to go to college right after high school. Here, some of Broadneck’s own students have shown how that is not the truth. Whether it’s taking a gap year, joining the military, learning a trade or going straight to college, there are more ways to be successful than you may believe.


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