Steamboat Springs Senior Savannah Muhme said she realized she was not quite ready to leave the Yampa Valley and could receive the education she was looking for nearby. Muhme will start cosmetology school in January at Colorado Northwestern Community College in Craig.
"I know that is what I want," she said. Muhme said she has worked in hair salons and has family members who work in the business. She said the community college has small class sizes and offers a good program close to home.
"I looked in Denver but (the schools) were really expensive and I'm not ready to leave," she said.
Muhme, like all seniors, met with vocational director Gayle Dudley to create a plan for her future college and career goals.
"The students are making better decisions about where they want to go," Dudley said. She said there are 161 seniors, and all but six students plan to attend college or a trade or technical school.
Colorado State University and the University of Colorado are still the two most popularly attended colleges, but Dudley said with a greater push for students to have a future plan, many students are applying for other colleges that better meet their needs.
Senior Anya Allen said deciding to pursue a career in business and art was an easy choice to make after a semester in Senior Experience.
Senior Experience is a class offered to all seniors that helps students explore career options as well as get prepared for college.
"I realized I wanted to do something with business and before I didn't have any direction," Allen said.
Dudley said she is fine with a student's choice of school if he or she has thought through why attending the school meets his or her future career goals.
She said in the past, many students would attend Colorado Mountain College because they did not make a decision. Now, she said, students do attend CMC but as their best option and not as a last-minute choice.
She said ideally all seniors should have their college applications completed by Thanksgiving, and all applications are due typically by January or February.
Senior Topher Simon said he submitted his application the first day San Francisco State University accepted them. Simon says he wants to be a theater major and eventually become a director.
Simon, who already received his acceptance letter, said he couldn't have done it without the help of his high school teachers. He said the university primarily recruits in-state students, so he was thrilled to be accepted.
"I would go tomorrow if I could," he said.
Dudley recommends students apply for schools as early as possible in case they are not accepted and need to come up with an alternative plan.
She said about one-fourth of all seniors have completed their applications so far. Also, most applications are completed on-line, requiring students to work at a computer with an Internet connection. Dudley said there are four computers in the career center for students to use to complete their applications.
When Dudley meets with all senior students again in December, she will focus on financial aid topics.
All seniors, she said, are in different stages of creating their long-term plan. She said she hopes to provide workshops to all high school students to encourage them to think about what they want to pursue in college and as a career.
Senior Lauren Weaver has been accepted to the University of Colorado and the University of Montana at Missoula, but which school she will attend depends on whether she receives the Boettcher Scholarship.
Weaver, who is a finalist for the scholarship, said she is not getting her hopes up but would receive a full-ride scholarship to any Colorado institution if she is selected for the prestigious scholarship.
"I'm trying not to get too excited," she said.
Weaver said she plans to study medicine or become an English teacher.