Bright future: Colleges, universities, businesses show kids what they could do with their future

Tuesday, March 12, 2019
News 12 at 6 o'clock/NBC at 7

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- More than 60 colleges & universities and 50 businesses are at the Columbia County Exhibition Center are showing kids what their next step could be.

It's the age-old question that leaves high schoolers lost and confused: What do I do with the rest of my life?

"Which college are they going to attend next? Which career are they going to go into?" said Sean Petro, the assistant human resources director for Columbia County Schools.

Petro is no stranger to that feeling. He's been working with high schoolers for years, first as a high school counselor and now, hiring the teachers who guide them.

"A lot of times when you grow up you're in your bubble. You know the University of Georgia, you know Georgia Tech, Georgia Southern, some of the schools in your vicinity, but you don't really know schools that are on the outskirts," said Petro.

Today, it's all about learning what's outside of the bubble. There are opportunities available at 71 colleges and universities and 50 businesses outside of the normal area.

"Students need to realize they can get a great paying job straight out of high school. They could go to a two-year technical school and get a great paying job or a four-year university," said Tammy Shepherd, the president, and CEO of the Columbia County Chamber.

Columbia County schools are changing their gears in the way they teach by offering more options outside of the classroom like dual enrollment, work-based teaching and manufacturing, and cyber classes.

"We want to grow our own talent, whether they stay here, go off to school, but the goal is to show them the careers back here and have them come back and be our future employees," said Shepherd.

For Sean, the secret is trial and error.

"I would just tell them to find something they're passionate about because if you can wake up every day and be excited about going to work, then you've already won," said Petro.