Participants at the College and Career Expo at Sparkman High School included Trey Leonard, from left, Dr. Sharon Clanton and Racquel McCrary. (CONTRIBUTED)
Participants at the College and Career Expo at Sparkman High School included Trey Leonard, from left, Dr. Sharon Clanton and Racquel McCrary. (CONTRIBUTED)

Archived Story

Sparkman students ‘shop’ for colleges, careers at expo

Published 9:14am Friday, January 24, 2014

HARVEST — Freshmen through seniors at Sparkman High School had the chance to ‘career shop’ and ‘college shop’ at the College and Career Expo on Jan. 22.

The ‘shopping’ angle was Dr. Sharon Clanton’s strategy for students to understand their “celebration of choices after high school.” Clanton works as college and career counselor at Sparkman.

“According to many parents and students, the expo was a positive, powerful experience … a life-altering event for many students,” she said.

The expo had a celebratory tone with balloons and music. “Instead of seeing apprehension on the faces of students, I saw excitement for the future,” Clanton said.

Professionals representing diverse post-secondary options answered questions and provided information. Breakout sessions targeted specific needs, including preparation for college freshmen, money management and “Find Your Passion and Career Path.”

Discussing their careers, professionals explained educational requirements, challenges, daily responsibilities and projected job outlook. Presenters included forensic scientists, engineers, financial planners, medical specialists, entrepreneurs, physicists, athletic trainers, artists and an author.

Students and parents rotated in/out of sessions at 30-minute intervals from a long menu of sessions. Clanton encouraged students “to push past their comfort zone and attend presentations from different career paths.”

“Studies show that half of first-time college students take six years to graduate instead of four — a significant difference in time and money,” Clanton said. “One reason is students who change their majors multiple times.”

She reminds freshman that cumulative grade point averages (GPA) start in ninth grade and help to determine scholarship offers. “Too often, students unplug and don’t actively prepare for their future. The thought can be overwhelming,” she said.

“When the torch of leadership is handed off to the next generation, Sparkman Senators will be poised and ready for the challenge,” Clanton said.

The Class of 2014 at Sparkman is continuing to pursue scholarships. Last year, scholarships increased by 50 percent with scholarships growing from $10 million to $15 million. Sparkman Principal Mike Campbell has challenged the Senators to make $17 million this year, Clanton said.

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