Friday, January 18, 2008

The Four Year Plan

When I enrolled Al in 8th grade last summer, I never thought that during the course of the year we would be planning out the rest of her life. On Wednesday, Al brought home the results from her Explore test which, if I understand correctly, is somewhat of a pre-pre-ACT test (the actual pre-ACT is done in 10th grade and is called PLAN) and a Career Aptitude test. Now, for the past year or so, she has said that she wants to go into Law Enforcement after college. She doesn't really want to be a police officer but would rather be in the forensics side of it, which I find fasinating but of course this isn't about me. She was more than a little disappointed when her results showed that she is best suited for Engineering or Architecture.

Here is the question that I have for all of you out there. Are you following the career path that you wanted to follow when you were 13 years old? When I was 13, I was positive I was going to be a large animal veterinarian and live on a huge horse ranch where I raised only the best of the best show horses. My place was going to be the Top Gun of horse ranches. I wasn't going to EVER get married and the thought of having kids never crossed my mind. I am the polar opposite of what I thought I wanted to be back then. Veterinarian? Nope; I sit in an office all day long infront of a computer screen. Horse ranch? Nope; had to put my horse down 10 years ago and haven't bought another one. Single? Nope; married for 13 years. Kids? I have 3 of them.

Yesterday, Al came home with all the information to register for High School (Yikes!) We are supposed to sit down this weekend and plan out the next four years of her education career and make tentative plans for the following two. The steps are:
1. Choose the college that you would like to attend after high school
2. Make sure that they offer the degree program within your Career Area
3. Determine the requirements for admission to that program
4. Choose your high school courses in accordance with the program requirements
What I don't know is are we supposed to map out her next 4 - 6 years according to what she says wants to do (Forensics) or according to what the Career Aptitude Test says (Engineering & Architecture)? I realize that nothing is set in stone and we can change what courses she takes during the year but what is wrong with letting her take whatever courses she wants to take so she can learn a little bit of everything if she wants to? Her interests are going to change almost daily as she gets older and I think that is great. I want her to experience as much as she can while she is young so that when she is my age and has a family she doesn't have regrets about not doing something.

I know that setting goals and working toward them is important and I will always encourage her to do so. I just think that at 13 years old, it is a little too much to ask them to plan out their high school career to move towards a particular college program and profession. Shoot, a lot of the 13 year olds I know have a hard enough time planning what they are going to wear to school on any given day, much less planning the rest of their lives!


Zoe's Dad said...

I'm 42 and I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up!!

Rebecca said...

I agree, at 13 it is too much! I wanted to drive a tank...then I wanted to be an astronomer...then an was senior year before I could plan out a college (well, the summer before - apps needed to be in by Nov.) I still didn't know what I wanted until like junior year of college - and they don't even ask you to decide in college until junior year. Man, I am so not ready for my kids to grow up - schools, society, they all push them to quickly!

Sniz said...

Geeze! With a few exceptions, most people don't even know what they want to do WHEN they go to college! I know I didn't and most of my friends didn't either.

TX Poppet said...

The average American will have three separate unrelated careers in her lifetime. I don't see how "tracking" a youngster helps her to prepare for a full well-rounded life or a happy successful career. Here's a link to my post on the subject:

Shauna Loves Chocolate said...

Since 13, I've been through so many different career ideas. Hell, I'm not really even using my college degree in my job.

Mighty Morphin' Mama said...

You already know the answer! Let her take what she is interested in at the moment. It sounds like she is interested in science type subjects so if she has to pick classes already as requirements for college, maybe find out what is required for a general science degree?
But 13 is way too young and way too much pressure. Honestly I found that pressure stifling as a teen, almost to the point of being completely unable to make any decisions because what if I made the wrong one?
Even when she goes to college she has the freedom to change her mind. And there are very few people who stay on the same career path for their whole lives. When/if she ever decides she wants to try something new, she will do what needs to be done to get there.
Let her explore and expose her to as much as possible. Let her find her passions!
Wow this is a topic I am passionate about, sorry,

MGM said...

I don't even remember for sure what I wanted to "be when I grew up" when I was 13. Heck, I made it all the way through a double major undergraduate degree and five years of post-grad life in the work force before going to grad school with a completely different focus than in undergrad school, and even shifted focus in grad school, before I felt confident about what I wanted to "be when I grew up."

Toni said...

Hmmmm. Well, okay then. I'm pretty sure at 13 that I was busy planning too. I was planning how I would get to the BeeGee's or Shaun Cassidy concerts without my parents. But then I was living hard, lol.

jenny said...

I remember in 8th grade we had to take an apitude test to see what best fit us careerwise and mine was like forest ranger or something. By the time I graduated high school, I had no idea what I wanted to do, so I took a year off and bummed around. My sister filled out a college application for me trying to force me to get off my ass and do something, so I went to a technical school before I lost my funding and left. Now I know why I couldnt figure out what I wanted to do, because I love my "job" as a mom and a wife.

13 is much too young, because we all change interests as we get older and what we like now is not what we liked then. I have to agree with mighty morphin mama, though, and maybe have her sign up for a bunch of science courses since that relates to csi-type work.

EE said...

That is crazy! I haven't heard of such a thing in public schools.
Is she in public schoools?

FRIGGA said...

Yes, 13 is way too young for that much career planning. Maybe talk about it a little, but I think closer to 10 grade is time to look at colleges... Good luck with all that planning though!

Happy Monday :-)