The goal of every student is to earn a high school diploma, right?

When we were growing up, that is what we focused on. But today, there is so much more for our students than just a diploma.

I tell my own children, “You must earn a diploma, plus ... ,” and then they can fill in the rest of the sentence.

Today, there are options for a diploma, plus college credit, plus internship experiences, plus mentorship, plus preapprenticeship, plus career-technical instruction leading to an industry credential or more college credit. Don’t just graduate when you can graduate; have a leg up on the next phase of life.

When we welcome new students to Tolles Career & Technical Center, the excitement surrounding the opportunities for our students can be contagious because our entire educational philosophy is designed around the idea of “diploma plus.”

The options at Tolles are as diverse in content as they are in possible career choices. Determining which direction to venture is one of the most pivotal decisions our students will ever make.

We are proud to offer a variety of programs.

Our 12 pathways are art and communications, business, construction, education, health sciences, hospitality, human services, law enforcement,information technology, law and public safety, manufacturing and engineering, and transportation.

Each program is designed to give students the tools needed to be successful in their field of study. We combine rigorous academics with bankable skills, in addition to college credits and specialized certifications, to lift our students to an elevated level of preparedness. This is what we mean by “diploma plus.”

Excitement is reignited at this time of year. When a senior class graduates, the thrill of what is to come is alive in our communities: seven school districts and 11 high schools.

It is time to put all of this preparation to the test. And Tolles students are ready.

Some graduates choose a path that involves higher education. They can do this because this year’s Tolles graduates, like many other career-center graduates, earned more than 5,000 college credits. That is an average of more than 20 credit hours per graduate.

Other students are excited to enter their chosen professions after commencement, and they are able to do this because this year’s graduating class earned more than 650 industry credentials at Tolles.

Likewise, many students will use the skills they’ve learned at Tolles to secure jobs in their field of study to help make college more affordable through employer-paid tuition reimbursement and their own income.

Whatever future plans might be, we celebrate our senior class. Because of “diploma plus,” I’m comforted knowing they are prepared for their college and career goals.

Emmy Beeson is superintendent of Tolles Career & Technical Center, which includes students from the Dublin and Hilliard school districts. Contact her at ebeeson@ tollestech.com.