Rachel is twenty-one and works for a financial services firm. She was furloughed, temporarily, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. She picked up a temp job in another office for now.
“Everybody’s life path is so different when it comes to school,” Rachel said. “I know I’ll eventually figure out what I want to do and go to college. I actually really enjoyed my classes in high school. Depression and anxiety set in and I missed lots of school. I then grew anxious about going back to school with people asking me why I was ‘out’ for so long.”
Rachel’s counselor witnessed the young woman’s desire to graduate increasingly thwarted by mental health challenges. She suggested there was another way to earn her high school diploma. She told Rachel about Vermont Adult Learning (VAL).
“It sounded like a good option. I was interested in being able to do my schoolwork at home and still graduate. Working forty hours a week at Shaw’s (Supermarket) and having my first serious boyfriend kept me busy,” Rachel said. “It was my way of distracting myself. I was kind of ashamed that I wasn’t graduating.”
Rachel is deliberate in her choices. She recognizes that jobs in customer service and in a support role at a financial firm allow her to support herself while taking time to discern what she really wants to study in college. With so many college graduates saddled with excessive debt, Rachel’s approach demonstrates intentionality.
And so, Rachel embarked on a delicate dance with VAL, beginning in her senior year of high school and concluding at age 21. She would meet with an academic advisor, make a plan and commence her studies. Life would get in the way, interrupting her studies. That said, she kept coming back to complete coursework and earn credits, inching her closer to a high school diploma.
“I knew I didn’t want to be a high school drop-out,” Rachel said. “What’s so great about VAL is that every time I reached out, they’d be there for me. No judgement. I now have all this free time and the self-discipline to get it done.”