The path less traveled: PV seniors seek to broaden horizons

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Alyssa Smith

PV seniors Campbell Wolfe and Mattie Moats visit Augustana College.

Alyssa Smith, Social Media Manager

Pleasant Valley is committed to excellence and the majority of PV seniors are looking to continue their academic excellence beyond highschool, but lost on where to continue their academic journey. The school has made little attempt to encourage exploration beyond in-state public universities and those aiming for schools beyond Iowa are left on their own. 

PV students have known the same information since before freshman year. The school makes sure students know exactly what they need for the University of Iowa, Iowa State University  and University of Northern Iowa but those looking at out of state and private schools are often left in the dark. 

Administration treats the Regent Admission Index (RAI) scores as the most important element for admission into college when it is really only relevant to those students looking at the big three state schools. If you have not had to sit through class meetings for four years, RAI scores are a combination of cumulative GPA, completed courses and ACT scores. RAI scores are used for admission into the University of Iowa, Iowa State University and University of Northern Iowa (UNI). 

This year, PV has introduced a new required college and career seminar intended to help students prepare for their plans after graduation. This class is mandatory for all grades during a quarter of the school year. While it has yet again taught the students about RAI scores, the class has begun addressing new information like scholarships and financial aid. But is it too late? 

Students often feel alone in their search for schools as well as during the application process. Although the college and career seminar will be helpful for freshman, sophomores and juniors, it is too little too late for many seniors. Early application deadlines are quickly approaching and many students already know their post-secondary plans.

The knowledge that most students have of private and out-of-state schools is from their own research. The college and career seminar has not made a difference for some students, especially those planning on going out-of-state or to private colleges.

Senior Adelaide Wolfe recently committed to Indiana State University and shared her struggles with her search for the right college. “I didn’t get any help from PV. The whole process was me doing it by myself,” Wolfe said. Now that she has done everything on her own, she feels unproductive as she sits through the class listening to information that does not pertain to her. 

After doing all her own research on requirements, Wolfe was frustrated that she was never introduced to out-of-state and private schools. “I know you can’t talk about every single university in the country but they should’ve put more focus on other schools around the area. I kinda had to do my own research to find the requirements,” Wolfe explained. 

Because of the hyper-focus on state schools, staying in Iowa often feels like the only option. It becomes difficult for students to branch out from in-state schools when they are the only ones that are talked about. Why do so many PV students end up at Iowa, Iowa State and UNI? Is it because they genuinely like the schools or is it because they didn’t know any different? 

Senior Mckenna Lewis was content with going to the University of Iowa until she discovered out-of-state private schools and just how much they suited her. She felt frustrated that she never knew anything about private and out of state schools.  “One of the hardest processes for me is just finding out these schools existed…I had to do that on my own,” Lewis said.  

When there is so much focus on the regent schools(Iowa, Iowa State and UNI), it is difficult for students to know what is out there and what the requirements for these schools are. RAI scores are only relevant to the regent schools; when it comes time to apply to out-of-state and private schools, students are often lost. 

Many students use the summer before their senior year to focus on their college search. Lewis wished that she knew the information prior to this summer. “I think the information is helpful…but it’s kinda too late now. I would’ve liked to know this information at the end of junior year,” Lewis stated. 

Students are hopeful that the junior class will get a chance to be guided in their college search with this new seminar. “It’s better to know ahead of time…It will be better for them now that it’s instructed by people that know what they’re talking about,” Lewis explained.

The college and career seminar presents a great opportunity for freshmen, sophomores and juniors to learn helpful information before it is too late. 

For the senior class, it is a different story; what was taught in the senior seminar Wolfe believes is no longer relevant. “I think it’s too late now especially for seniors, they should be focusing more on juniors,” Wolfe stated

Students deserve guidance and help throughout the college search and application process. Moving forward the exploration of all types of colleges should be made a priority. In the coming years, the school should support students aiming for out-of-state and private schools.