(Staff photo by Phyllis McLaughlin/pmclaughlin@madisoncourier.com)
(Staff photo by Phyllis McLaughlin/pmclaughlin@madisoncourier.com)
On Thursday night, parents learned some of the same lessons their children would soon learn at a career fair during Parent Night, which was offered for the first year in conjunction with the career fair at Madison Junior High School.

Topics during the session included helping their children explore career pathways and find scholarship and savings programs to help pay for post-secondary education that will get the students where they want to be as adults.

They also discussed how students in both districts can actually earn at least one year’s worth of college credit before graduating from high school – a program paid for by the school corporations.

The session was led by Nathan Hadley, MCS college and career readiness coordinator, along with MCS guidance counselors Betsy Sullivan and David Campbell, and Southwestern guidance counselor Devin Brierly.

The counselors stressed that “College and Career Readiness” does not always refer to four-year college programs.

“College” can mean certificate programs in welding and other skilled trades, as well as two- and four-year programs, Sullivan said.

Campbell encouraged parents to have their children talk to people who work in professions they are interested in, or even seeking apprenticeships.

“I had the opportunity to work at a veterinarian’s office when I was in high school,” he said. “That’s what I thought I wanted to do then.”

While he didn’t stay with that profession, the experience taught him a lot. “I learned soft skills, like the importance of showing up to work.”

Campbell said he enjoys telling about his experience in the military and said that’s a good option for students who want to earn money for college.

Enlisting doesn’t mean that the student will be trained for combat, he said. “You can be a minister in the military. You can be an accountant, you can be a plumber or a mechanic.”

But most importantly, he advised parents not to be “discouraged by any post-secondary option” because of cost. “There are ways to [afford] it. We can help you plan for it,” he said. “We’ll do everything we can to help your student be successful – today, tomorrow, in high school – because it does take some kind of post-secondary experience to get ready for the real world.”

But most of all, the counselors encouraged parents to get their students to start exploring their interests and challenging themselves.

“Encourage your children to take the most challenging courses and do the best they can,” Sullivan said.