College Nights offer DODDS students a glimpse at life after high school
There’s more to sending a teenager to college than packing bags and buying a plane ticket.
“I’m thinking about getting an apartment,” said Christopher Perez, a senior at Lakenheath High School. “But I’m not too sure — it’s expensive.
“And the schoolwork, too — what classes should I go about taking? Money is also an issue and just being able to support myself.”
To help students and parents learn more about what is available and what to expect, Department of Defense Dependents Schools in Europe will be holding College Nights over the next three months. Dozens of U.S. colleges and universities will have representatives present to talk about their schools.
Bahrain had its College Night on Tuesday. Livorno, Italy, will hold one on Wednesday, and Incirlik, Turkey, has one on Sept. 28.
The events aren’t just for seniors, according to Janet Garn, a guidance counselor at Ramstein American High School in Germany, which has its College Night on Oct. 14.
“One of the biggest mistakes people make is waiting until their senior year,” Garn said. “If they’re serious about college, ninth-graders should come and certainly 10th- and 11th-graders."
Jamie Henshaw, a guidance counselor at Lakenheath High School, which will hold its College Night on Nov. 17, said college is often the first time many DODDS students will live on their own. It may be their first time living off a military base.
Some parents are also surprised by the hidden costs of going to college, she said.
“There’s transportation, eating out, linen service,” Henshaw said.
“Those sorts of things, they’re not used to [paying for]. These are pieces that I think sometimes come as a surprise to both the parents and the kids.”
She added that college might also be a teenager’s first chance to go to the doctor by himself, first time driving a car and first time for managing his own time.
Tom Koziar, a senior at Lakenheath, went to last year’s College Night at Lakenheath. He has since narrowed his choices to Norwich University in Vermont (good ROTC program), Iowa State (family nearby) and James Madison University in Virginia (father is an alumnus).
“I’ve used some of the notes I took,” Koziar said. “I thought it was pretty good. They had not only booths for different colleges but also separate seminars where you could sit down and learn what you needed to take to get into college.”
Other information that will be available to students and parents could include deadlines for registering and applying for financial aid, availability of jobs and what clubs a college has for its students.
“It’s imperative they take advantage of this opportunity,” Garn said.
“They are so far away and many won’t be able to visit the campuses themselves. This is the next best thing.”
College Night schedule ...
College Night schedule for Department of Defense Dependents Schools high schools in Europe (check locally for times and site):
Brussels and SHAPE at International School of Brussels, Belgium
Baumholder, Bitburg, Kaiserslautern and Ramstein at Ramstein, Germany
Lajes Field, Azores
Ansbach, Bamberg and Würzburg at Würzburg, Germany
Alconbury, Menwith Hill and Lakenheath at Lakenheath, England