June 3, 2013
Thousands of local 18-year-olds graduated from high school over the weekend, and several of them are already joining the work force.
Rebecca Yew, who graduated from Covenant School on Saturday, began her new job at Rack Room Shoes in Charlottesville Monday morning.
"I'm excited to be out of high school and be in the work force," Yew said. "I won't shut up about it. I literally tell everyone on the street."
But the transition is also a bit frightening for Yew.
"I feel sort of lost," Yew said. "I don't really know what to do. I'm still kind of a baby. I live in my parent's house and they're just pushing me out of the house and I'm like, 'Ok, what do I do?'"
Yew is planning to start at Piedmont Virginia Community College in the fall.
"I would prefer to be going to a university or a four-year college," Yew said. "But Piedmont is a good step."
Nationwide, fewer high school graduates are choosing college, according to statistics released from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. They show that college enrollment dropped last year, for the first time in several years.
But that does not appear to be the case in Charlottesville and Albemarle County. In the county, 80 percent of high school graduates are going to college, which is the same as it was been in recent years. In Charlottesville, the rate is 77 percent, slightly lower than it was four years ago. But both areas are well above the national average of 66 percent.
"We actually have a school counseling program that begins in ninth grade," said Amy Wright, the director of school counseling at Western Albemarle High School. "And we meet with the entire grade each year."
The school even has a list in the cafeteria that shows where every senior is going to college. The list also includes those who are going to work instead of college.
Yew is preparing to do both. And she is already dreaming up how she will spend her first pay check.
"Clothes and food," Yew said. "Junk food because my mom's a Vegan, so she's healthy and doesn't buy me junk food."