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Ray Cheplic

The Road Less Taken: Seniors not going to College

[dropcap]A[/dropcap] ccording to Thornton Academy statistics; In 2013, 54% of students went to 4 year college. 22% attended a 2 year college, and 24% of graduates took a year off, headed into the military or were employed right out of high school instead of going to college.

A May 2014 New York Times article titled Fewer US Graduated Opt for College After High School asserted that, “there seems to be little doubt that the long-term trend of more and more high school graduates going to college has halted, if not reversed. As recently as 1976, the enrollment figure was below 50 percent. It rose to 69 percent by 2005, and since then has fluctuated.”

Megan Yudaken researching Israel

Senior Megan Yudaken is planning to take between 2-4 gap years, “maybe even 5 or 6” she said laughing, to work on a Kibbutz (a communal farm in Israel). In exchange for working on the farm, she will get supplies and a place to live for free.

Her synagogue in Portland supports Jewish teens in their spiritual growth with what they call a “birth right trip.” They pay to bring people for free for 10 days to Israel and tour all the religious sites. After their trip they are free to do what they would like from there.

Megan’s sister went after graduating in 2009 and she said, “it was the most amazing experience of her life” so Megan is eager to go too. Since the trip is free she wants to take advantage of the experience now and then eventually come back to the United States for college. Yudaken said she might become a teacher, but she’s unsure and admits that she changes her mind often.

She is very excited about her trip to work on the kibbutz because when she gets older, Megan wants to make her own farm and have everything she needs on that farm to live with no technology to distract her from the land and nature around her.

A recent spike in violence and instability in Jerusalem (Israel) complicates Yudaken’s plan. With Megan going to Israel to work on a Kibbutz, Megan’s plan has to remain more fluid than those who go straight to college. Her Mother doesn’t want her to go to Israel anymore because she is worried about the violence. Yudaken watches the news so that she can make sure she can still travel there, but at the same time Yudaken is scared to watch too closely because of the violence.As of October she was still determined to travel there and work on a kibbutz after graduation.

Ray Cheplic Jammin
Ray Cheplic jammin’

Ray Cheplic is also taking another route after graduation.  He doesn’t see college as being necessary to work in the music industry where he said, “it’s all about the people you know.” Cheplic has nothing against college, but thinks it makes more sense to spend any money he makes on his music career instead of college.

After school ends, he thinks he’d like to head off on a road trip for spiritual reasons.  He wants to “roam around deserts, mountains, go to Cali, Utah, visit lots of west coast and southern deserts.” Then he’s going to get an apartment, buckle down and see where his music takes him. He plays reggae and folk mostly, but when he’s upset about things likes punk rock.

            Cheplic plans to apply to guitar center soon, and says he will walk around and play guitar all day. Cheplic’s job will leave him time to work on his music in his spare time.


Andrew Goulden catching lobster
Andrew Goulden catching lobster

Andrew Goulden has been busy developing a career as a lobsterman while finishing high school and thinks it’s unlikely he’ll go to college, at least for a while. Goulden has worked on boats his whole life. “That’s not something everyone can do,” Goulden said, “because there are many laws and regulations which make fishing hard to get into.”  For example, Goulden had to log 1000 hours before age 18 to get his Commercial fishing license.

Goulden feels really lucky to get to spend so much time on the water. Goulden says, “It’s always different, you’re not ever sure what you’re gonna see, different stuff everyday, different views, I like that it’s different and I get to see things people may never see in their lifetime.”

“College is just not for me,” Goulden said. “I just wanna make money.” And Goulden feels it’s important to keep the family business going.  Goulden’s Father is a 5th generation lobster man and his Grandpa was a lobsterman and shrimper.

When Goulden’s Father turned 18 he got his own Shrimping boat. “Shrimping is out of business,” Goulden told me, “Tuna fishing is fun, but there’s not too much to it, if you catch a Tuna fish it’s lots of money. Lobster is the most sustainable industry for now anyway.”

Goulden is not worried about being able to lobster in the future, but his father is worried that it will come to a halt. Lots of people disagree. Goulden told me that for every 5 lobster men that retire, only 1 start. Down the road very few people will still be around and then there will be less competition.

Goulden wouldn’t move from Maine, people are territorial in a new place. He thinks they could cut goulden’s traps or worse. He likes fishing here in Maine, and wants to lobster for rest of life.

“If I can make money and look forward to getting up in the morning and going to work, then I’ll be happy.” Goulden said.

Going to college is a large commitment and looms over Thornton Academy students heads for all four years they are at Thornton. There are many different opportunities other than going to college and they can be just as beneficial to the right kind of people.

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