PANHANDLE PERSPECTIVES: Here’s Help for Your Student’s Next Chapter

By Cynthia Gill, Extension Educator, Cheyenne County

High school students have many choices facing them about further education after graduation. Four-year degrees, junior colleges or certificate programs – which is the right choice for their next life chapter?

To help with these life-altering decisions, Nebraska Extension has partnered with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) Admissions to create a statewide program called Next Chapter, a college-readiness program delivered through the Nebraska 4-H program that helps students prepare for and succeed in college by providing the skills students need to reach their academic goals.

Next Chapter is available statewide and helps families talk about colleges and careers beginning in the eighth grade by pre- admitting these 4-H members to UNL. Students must still meet all requirements for admission to the University, and must maintain 4-H membership throughout high school.

Eighth graders are invited to the Next Chapter Statewide Celebration event at UNL’s campus with their families on April 23. Invitations to this event will be mailed soon to currently enrolled 4-H members in the eighth grade. Whether your student plans to attend UNL or not, this is a great way to start the conversation about what’s next after high school. It’s not too late to be part of the celebration. Get your eighth grader registered for 4-H at or

Said one 4-H member after participating in the first year of the program: "Three things that 4-H has taught me: teamwork, the happiness of helping others and good sportsmanship." 

As students progress through high-school years, the Next Chapter program is there with college and career prep lessons and activities that will aid in their future success. These lessons are offered in various delivery methods in each county. Some have the opportunity to participate in Next Chapter activities in school, while others have out-of-school opportunities or participate in a club setting.

In any method, these lessons and activities have the goal of preparing your student for a successful transition to college or trade school. “I didn’t think I could go into college,” said one participant, “but I think I’ll try.”

The program inspires youth to choose to continue their education after high school; promotes awareness of higher education options; develops college and career readiness skills; and helps students match their interests with career choices and engage in 4-H opportunities.

Students participating in Next Chapter identify career and academic goals, develop effective communication skills and practice public speaking, learn best practices for motivation, and explore interview skills.

For more information about Next Chapter, check out Register for 4-H at

To learn more about how to get your child involved, please contact Cynthia Gill at or your local Extension Office.