The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

Dawn Allen Assists Students Preparing for Future

For many students, the years after high school remain a vague question mark looming on the far horizon of graduation. With so many choices to be made, the path ahead often seems daunting at first. But that’s what the new College and Career Center coordinator Dawn Allen is here for: to help students along.

“I really…enjoy working with students, especially high school students, because they’re at a crossroads of just possibilities [and] lots of different options,” Allen said. “I have a real open mind about what their futures could be.”

Allen not only claims a varied background working in several different areas of a school but also possesses first-hand experience going through the college process, as she is a mother of three grown children.

“I have a counseling background and a teaching background and…a lot of experience with…college and career consulting,” Allen said. “I’ve been a parent with three kids that went through high school….I’ve already gone through this [process] and I’ve experienced it, so I understand.”

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To get students thinking about their futures, Allen asks them some umbrella questions such as “Who are you?” and “What do you want to give back in your life?”

Though the questions may be simple, the answers are anything but.

“When I say ‘Who are you?’ that’s a real simple question, but there’s just so many layers under that,” Allen said. “What makes you happy? What things in life do you get excited about? What career do you think, ‘Wow, that’d be really cool?’”

One of the things Allen loves about her job is asking these questions to help students realize the diverse options available to them and figure out where they want to go from there.

“It’s really rewarding when a student comes back in and they’ve taken some time to think about the questions I’ve asked them and…you can see [that] they’re feeling more at peace with the fact that…there are things they are interested in that they didn’t even think about [as options],” Allen said. “That makes me really happy.”

The best part of this, according to Allen, is when students discover a major that they never even considered before. In particular, Allen encourages juniors and seniors to go to college visits as a source of inspiration for career paths.

“I get such a thrill out of seeing a spark in someone’s eye when…they just light up, they sit up straight and you can tell they’ve found something they’re interested in,” Allen said.

But that’s not to say underclassmen shouldn’t be thinking about the future either.

“I love the idea of ninth graders thinking about things, thinking about the direction they want to go in,” Allen said. “Not necessarily deciding what career or what college, but just thinking, exposing themselves to activities, clubs or things they have an interest in and creat[ing] a passion.”

Another message that Allen hopes to promote is to not make assumptions about schools.

“I had a girl who said she didn’t want to go to a snobby East Coast school’ or something like that,” Allen said. “That kind of stereotype is dangerous in that you could be eliminating something that will give you so many opportunities and wonderful experiences that could change your life for the positive.”

To combat the effects of such stereotypes, Allen recommends that students get to know different colleges because doing so enriches their exposure to different possibilities.

“Find out about them, come to visits, talk to people that have gone and so forth,” Allen said. “Just see, maybe it’s something that will open your world up in a good way.”

However, the idea of breaking stereotypes represents just a small part of Allen’s overall belief in being open-minded and non-judgmental about what students choose to do after high school. Although she is a believer in education, Allen has seen all kinds of scenarios and acknowledges that there is no set path to a happy and successful future. As the College and Career Center coordinator, she hopes that she can help students progress in whatever path they choose.

“I…respect the fact that people have different ideas in the next years of approaching [their future],” Allen said. “[And] I’m interested in everyone and tapping into their potential and possibilities for them in terms of their careers or their future college, their school now, activities that they do and so forth.”

Her final message to students is to make the most of their choices in life.

“Don’t sell yourself short,” Allen said. “Keep digging until you figure out what you want…because you’ve got one precious life, [so you] might as well do things that are worth it [and] meaningful to you.

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