The Daily Globe - Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Taste of life after college for GCC students


Cortney Ofstad/Daily Globe

TAYLOR BEHR, a junior at Ontonagon High School, discusses housing options with Mark Silver, of Silver Properties, of Ironwood, during a Life Unplugged event at Gogebic Community College Tuesday. It was sponsored by GCC and the Gogebic-Ontonagon Intermediate School District.

IRONWOOD - Seventy area high school students glimpsed into their futures Tuesday at Gogebic Community College.

Sophomores, juniors and seniors from schools in Gogebic and Ontonagon counties played a game called "Life Unplugged," allowing them to make choices as adults.

The event started off with kids rolling the dice to start families, whether as single people or married; kids or no kids.

Next, they traveled to a booth run by River Valley Bank. Students selected a career and were told how much they would earn per month after taxes.

Students also received a checkbook to add or subtract incomes and expenses as they traveled to each booth.

Other booths included:

-Investing and saving funds with Edward Jones Investments, of Ironwood.

-Purchasing or renting a home, condo or apartment with Silver Properties, of Ironwood.

-Dealing with the costs of utilities with the city of Ironwood.

-Learning about name brands, versus store brands, when shopping for groceries with Michigan State University Extension.

-Costs of child care with Trinity Lutheran Preschool, in Ironwood.

-Purchasing or leasing a car with Ollie's Auto, of Bessemer.

-Purchasing house, medical, dental, liability and auto insurance with Brookside Insurance, of Ironwood.

-Purchasing clothing for work and paying for personal care.

According to Paulette Niemi, transition coordinator for the Gogebic-Ontonagon Intermediate School District, students got "reality checks" when traveling through the booths.

"The reality check could be something good, like a bonus at work, or an unexpected expense," Niemi said. "Also, when they travel to the booth for Aspirus Grand View Hospital, they had one of 30 medical issues they have to pay for, and learning how insurance can help cut the costs."

After traveling through all the booths, students with money left over were given options of spending it on travel or entertainment, or investing or saving it.

For some students, costs were surprising.

"I was very surprised at how much there is," senior Eliza Abramson, from Ironwood, said. "I thought it was going to be easy living. If other students have the chance to do this event, I would recommend it."

Students also attended sessions with Michigan Works to learn more about finding jobs. According Bridget Hillard, a talent development specialist from the Michigan Works Houghton office, students have been interested in the sessions.

"We had students ask a ton of questions and they learned things that are applicable to their lives," Hillard said. "We showed them where to look for jobs, what Michigan Works does, what information they can put on job applications, including what they can use to fill in gaps where they may lack job experience and how to present themselves."

For Ontonagon junior Andrew Jenkins, the event has him thinking about his future.

"It's not as simple as buying food," Jenkins said. "It's a lot to think about, which is not necessarily a bad thing. I would recommend this to other students if they have the chance."

Students were also given tours of GCC and learned about different programs available.

GCC employees Nik Patrick and Mark Wendt spoke to students about the college and different things they can do to prepare for college and the "real world."

"The event has been going really great," Wendt said. "We talked to kids about current events, because students need to know what's going on in the world, and talked to them about their skills, talents and interests because that is where their career is."

The event was funded by grants from the Business and Professional Women's Organization, Michigan Works and Michigan Transition Services Association. According to Niemi, the goal is to have the event every other year.

"It has gone really well, and the kids are excited," Niemi said. "It has allowed them to choose careers and think about spending decisions and has given them a reality check on what their futures could be."


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