College Bound? For some high schoolers, ‘I have to go to college’

High school seniors face major decisions in their last year of high school. What influences their thinking?

Editor’s note: College Bound? is a series from the Dayton Daily News asking local high school seniors how they are deciding what to do after graduation. State and local leaders have worked in recent years to build a diverse workforce by promoting options other than a four-year university such as apprenticeships and trade school. We wanted to hear from high schoolers in their own words how they are choosing which path to take. Go here for a full report.

Four-year degree

Alishan Bakhriyev, the son of immigrant Russians who didn’t get to finish high school and a senior at Dayton Early College Academy, has already been accepted into Ohio State University’s Young Scholars program, which helps first-generation college students in nine urban districts afford and graduate from college.

He said it’s an expectation for him and his brother to earn at least a bachelor’s degree in higher education.

“College is where I’m going,” he said. “I have to go to college.”

Simply attending college isn’t enough, either. Bakhriyev said he feels he needs to take advantage by getting good internships and making connections, so future employers see his experience beyond a degree.

That experience is also important to solidify his choice of careers, Bakhriyev said. That’s something he tells future students to do, as well.

“Do something you want to do for the rest of your life,” he said.

Kyla Ward

Ward, a senior at Northmont High School, plans on going to college.

“I think for my personality type, having that goal in mind, and just being able to just go for it has helped me,” said Ward, who has been class president all four years of high school.

As of early November, she had been accepted into several colleges, including Bowling Green State University and the University of Dayton. She’ll make a final decision after she learns the details of her financial aid in the spring.

Ward wants to pursue business administration, which would likely require a master’s degree. Her family has money saved for her to attend college, but she wants to use that money to get a master’s degree instead of using it on her undergraduate degree, so she’s seeking as much scholarship money as possible, up to full cost. She wants to avoid student loans.

For her, college is an invaluable experience to make the connections she needs to succeed. It will also allow her to explore several possible careers.

For Black women like Ward, college can help raise wages. Black women have historically made less than their white counterparts, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

Black women with a college degree statistically still make less than white women with a college degree, according to a 2017 analysis from the Federal Reserve.

More from this project:

- College Bound? Some students drawn to well-paying trades, avoiding college debt

- College Bound? Military service is an option

- College Bound? Weighing 2-year college over a 4-year degree

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