Tuesday, September 23, 2008

What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?

OK, so my oldest child is in 8th grade this year. Eighth grade. I learned tonight that he pretty much needs to decide what he wants to do for a living now. In eighth grade. To put it in perspective, I just found out what I wanted to do with my life this past year. At age 37.

Austin and I went to an orientation type event at the high school today. We went from class to class and listened to the importance of forming a 4 year plan; a 4 year plan that needs to be decided on now. They stressed over and over the importance of choosing classes wisely and always working toward your long term goal of college and after. I just sat there thinking, "But my son is only in 8th grade! I swear just yesterday he was learning how to walk. What happened? When did he grow up? When did he go from the little kid who was obsessed with animals and Hot wheels and Pokemon to the young man sitting next to me who was being instructed to start thinking about his career path? I had to bite my lip to keep from tearing up.

I'm glad we went to this curriculum introduction because man, oh man, have things changed since I was in high school. Did you know that a lot of high schools offer courses that count toward college credit? Our school offers classes that, when you do well on the final tests, can count toward a semester of college. On the one hand - yay for the parents because who wouldn't want their kid to essentially get a semester of college for free? On the other hand - HE'S ONLY IN EIGHTH GRADE AND YOU'RE ALREADY TALKING ABOUT HIS SECOND YEAR IN COLLEGE! I started hyperventilating and my son looked at me as if to say, "See, I told you school was evil."

Austin will have to take a very long, very important test in November which will determine his placement next year in high school. Come January, he'll have to choose the classes he'd like to take. You know, keeping in mind his college plans and what he'd like to do with his life. That's a lot of pressure! How is a 13 year old supposed to know what he wants to do with his life? I know a lot of people who didn't decide what they wanted to do until after college. Some switched majors fifteen times before graduating. Most ended up doing something completely unrelated to their majors.

Austin and I talked a little bit about his future career. "So what do you want me to do, Mom?"
"I want you to do something that makes you happy."
"Like what?"
"Well, you're a smart kid. I'd hate to see you settle for a job that doesn't use your full potential. You could really do anything you wanted to."
Did I just say that? Did I say that out loud to him? Flashbacks of my parents and my guidance counselor looking disappointed while admonishing me, "If only you'd work up to your potential.... If only you'd apply yourself, you could do anything you wanted to...." whirred through my head.
Jackson piped up and said, "I know what I want to do!"
"That's great," I think. At least one of my kids is driven and knows what he wants to do with his life! "What do you want to do, Jackson?"
"I'm going to work at the bakery so I get free cookies," he proudly announced.
That's my boy!

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71 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hey Dawn. I'm in 11th grade, and I hear the college talk EVERY day. It only get's worse. They tell you a billion different dates. The fun is just beginning! =)
Amanda

Jade said...

Yeah see, that's why I'm a General Studies major. I'm getting the education *I* freakin want, and I'll be well-rounded because I didn't just pick a major that I won't end up using. If I decide later that I want to go for something specific, then I've already got the foundation to start it and go for my masters.

Expecting someone to know what they want to do for the rest of their lives by a specific age is such a touchy subject for me, lol.

Josh said...

Back once upon a time in my first year of college when I was choosing a major and thinking about career choices, I remember hearing that most students change majors at least once before graduation. Plans change. I know I'm not doing today what I originally thought of for myself, and I'm just as happy or happier. I think the important thing is to let him find himself through the studies and related extracurriculars he likes and dislikes (and, but not only, what he excels in).

Anita said...

I am 30 years old and I STILL don't know what I want to do when I grow up...albeit I'm mom and that's most important to me, but I still don't know what ELSE I want to do...and I have only been out of high school for 11 years and I'm scared to death for when my kids hit high school...things will be SO different! The pressure alone is stifeling..decide now what you want to be...good gravey! I'd buckle 'neath all of that!

Anonymous said...

Hi Dawn!

Oh, man. Trust your instincts. Life is too short to for Austin to decide his career path starting at 13.

Maybe he can learn what he feels like learning and then, as time goes on, his career path becomes apparent as he is enjoying his way through life.

When I started out, I thought life was a long, straight hallway where, as I made decisions, doors clanged shut behind me and I was propelled irrevocably forward without deviation.

Through the various surprises life had in store for me (some good, some challenging, some life-threatening), I got out of the hallway, changed my path as I saw fit and as my intuition told me, and at the ripe old age of 30 chose a decidedly non-traditional career (massage therapy).

Today I own my own business, am a published author (textbooks, not fun books like yours), am married to the love of my life (another massage therapist), have no 401K (which seem to be in peril these days anyway) and could not be happier. I have an enormous amount of freedom, no one tells me what to do, and get to use my talents as I see fit.

Life is what Austin will make for himself, not what others tell him it will be.

Sandy in Tucson

jodi-mother of six said...

How well I remember those child/parent meetings and I DID tear up and my kids about died, I think. Geeez Mom!!
The most important thing for HS is to take the classes that are required for college. So that he always has the choice. If he doesn't take the classes and come the Senior year and he decides college is for him, he won't have that choice.
And at least 4 of my kids changed their majors in college 7 times....at least 7 times...maybe more.
Gawd, I'm 68 and I'm still not sure what I want to be when I grow up...I keep trying different things all the time!!!

jennyonthespot said...

No. No. I cannot go there. Can't.

I just went to the curriculum night for my 1st and 3rd grader. The 1st grade one was fun and cute and flowery and gushy... but 3rd grade. I almost cried... I thought HE was going to school. I paid my time. I did 3rd grade already!

It's overwhelming. I can't even imagine 8th. *patting you on the back... breathing in paper bag...*

Vic @ Glowstars said...

Well at least working out his four year plan should be fairly easy!

It's such a shame that kids are made to start choosing their direction at such an early age. I can't help feeling it would be better to give them a broader education up to college and then start moulding the shape they want to form.

Amanda said...

It's sad, but true. My husband just left a job where he was in charge of getting kids the information they needed for ROTC scholarships in college. He worked very closely with admissions and he said that the kids even need to start visiting schools in their sophomore year now so that they can narrow it down Jr. year and apply early admission because nowadays if you don't apply early admission you pretty much aren't getting into your first choice. That's just crazy to me.

If you're talking about the AP classes for college credit, they're great! I either got credit for or tested out of several of the 101 classes by taking them in high school.

Janis said...

Oh my how this brings back memories - and not all of them good! I recall going to a meeting or presentation of some sort when my son was in 7th grade (yes, 7th grade!) and I literally left in tears. By the time the guidance counselors and other guest experts finished talking I felt that since my son the slacker wasn't already placed in the advanced math and science programs for 8th grade, we had pretty much missed the boat for any chance of a meaningful college placement. Can you tell I'm still a little resentful? I'm happy to say that despite the morbid forecast for his future, he recently received his degree and is happily and gainfully employed and we are oh-so-happy for him.

With that said, our HS has the same program to allow for college credits and it is a wonderful opportunity. Our daughter, who is an over-achiever, is building up quite a stash in that regard. She's been told and gives a great deal of weight to the theory that some of her most challenging subjects are more easily dealt with at the HS level.

I'm grateful for these new opportunities (and as you said, what a blessing to save on college expense!) but at the same time, I am wary of this developing trend to pressure them at an earlier and earlier age to make monumental life decisions. They are still babies, aren't they?! ;)

Susanne said...

We just went through the same thing with my 14 year old freshman daughter, except that we were transferring from a private school so she didn't get to take the long important test and had to decide a week before school started what she wanted to do with her life. Talk about overwhelmed! She chose the Hospitality career path because she's already developing some pretty mad culinary skills. I like that they can get college credit, but sheesh! I remember my father sitting down with me occasionally during junior high and high school and asking what my five year goal was. In my head it was, "Still breathing," but of course I gave some dutiful answer like, "Going to college." Did I go to college? Nope. Am I still breathing? You betcha! Reach for the stars, baby!
~from a successful mom of seven, down to five at home

Steph said...

I ended up going back to college because I didn't like my first degree... I don't know how you are supposed to know when you are 13! I suggest he just take lots of gen ed classes that can be used towards anything.

dorthyinoz said...

I totally understand. My oldest is 20 and has been driven to succeed since 6th grade. She graduated with High Honors, a tough track to go, lots of stress and sleepless nights, lots of migraines but she was determined no matter how much I wanted her to back off. She didn't do well enough on any of the tests to get college credit, but she did get A's in her classes - just not a good test taker. After 2 1/2 years of college - and graduating with her Associate's in General Studies - she doesn't know what she wants to do with her life now. She has discovered that what she loved and was going to have a career in just isn't what she wants on a day-to-day basis. Take lots of deep breaths and tell him that it is not the end of the world if you change your mind. Don't let the school scare you and pressure you. You are the parent! Keep remembering that!

Sara said...

I never knew what I wanted to do no matter how much people asked. I ended up in engineering because I liked science and math, there was supposedly a good job market out there for engineers, and it paid well. That was the sum total of what I knew about engineering.

Everyone I know has HATED their first job out of college. I would say it's definatly hard to decide where you want to go in 8th grade, but I think the important thing is to focus on school and see where God leads you. God can intterupt or change your plans no matter how hard you try to plan out your life.

Anonymous said...

Dawn - try not to stress about it! Try not to THINK about it!! Just block the whole thing out of your mind! He's 13 - what does he know?! He'll change his mind at least 20 times between now and 18. Is he college material? Then get him into college-bound classes and that's all you really have to do.

As far as the college-credit classes - WATCH OUT!!! High Schools often offer lots of classes that are supposed to be college-credit classes (AP) but then it turns out no colleges accept the credit from those classes - ie. geography, history. Most accept AP math and science, tho. Just make sure the credit from any AP class he's going to take will be accepted by the college he's most likely to attend. Been there, didn't do that! Wasted a lot of $ and stress and time getting a high school kid thru those classes that then didn't count for diddly. Best deal is to let the high school kid go to jr or community college for all or part of his jr-sr years. Take everything the high school counselor tells you with a large ration of salt! Have fun and enjoy it!!
Barbara O.

Kyddryn said...

The Evil Genius just had the conversation about potential and working hard. He's five. Sigh.

I think I will avoid thinking about his future for a little while longer, if I may...I just want to enjoy the sweet little-boy hugs, kisses, cuddles, and weirdness.

Shade and Sweetwater,
K

Heather said...

My 9 year old 4th grader daughter has VERY HIGH aspirations of becoming a "Sandwich Artist" at Subway! I think her thoughts are along the same line as Jacksons! Good Luck with High School!

Gigi said...

I can sooo relate to this. My oldest is in 8th which is in the high school in our town. Just recently turned 13 and is fond of reminding me in three years she can get her license.
I remind her she will be driving a minivan and her sisters!

Anonymous said...

**teeheehee** Jax has the absolute right idea! God bless your kids, Dawn, they are awesome!! Thanks for my morning giggle!

Donna in PA :)

Becs said...

Dawn-

I was able to start college as a sophomore (10 years ago) because of so many credits from HS. While that did mean I had to declare a major from the get go, it also gave me the freedom to explore other classes and change my major without adding any additional years (rather than the traditional 4, which I hear is becoming 5). I had never intended to get out in 3 years anyway.
(I was also lucky enough to have a full academic/athletic scholarship.)

The majority of advanced placement classes that would be taken are the basics: english, math, history, intro to psych etc... and it is really nice to not have to sit through English again when you already know it. Instead you can take classes like Stained Glass and History of Horror Story and Film instead :)

It all sounds pretty daunting, but I assure you its less threatening and serious than it sounds. The school is probably under a lot of pressure too, which is why they stress it so much.

I wish Austin luck on the placement test. If he worked at the bakery, you could get free cookies too though :)

scarlett said...

Kids are so refreshingly honest! Funny too!

Brenda said...

: ) 3 of mine have in the past or are following the college plan. One is not. The other is in 8th grade and will follow the college plan if he can focus enough to complete it. My oldest changed her major 4 times and ended up being a business major which we would have NEVER guess. Oh and by the way, at age 52 I am working on a masters to become a therapist.

DeeDee said...

Awwwhhh, I'm so proud! My nephew is taking after his aunt. Although I worked at a bakery so that I could get the free DONUTS!

Super Sub said...

I am so glad that I wasn't the only mom who felt this way. My son is in 9th grade this year. We had the same meeting last year. The booklet said to choose classes that will lead into your future career. What? His career right now is passing high school. That's it. He's special ed and that's enough for him to handle right now. He doesn't need the extra pressure of the rest of his life on his shoulders.

I'm a 42 year old mom and I STILL don't know what I want to be when I grow up! I ended up becoming a substitute teacher. Never would have seen that one coming.

What did YOU want to be when you were growing up?

Jennifer said...

I have to come out of lurking to say that Jackson is a smart one. When my son was in second grade, they had an assignment where they had to pick a future career, draw a picture of it and write a paragraph about it. He chose ice cream man because 1) he likes to make people happy and 2) he'd get all the free ice cream he could handle.
Boys, huh? :)

Sarah said...

Gosh,I'm fifty-three and still not sure what I want to be when I grow up! Now I'm totally happy being a wife/mom/homemaker/part-time jobber right now, but eventually I'll need something else.

RADS said...

Speaking as a college instructor in physics with 20+ years experience I'm going to give you some unsolicited advice. I've taught both traditional and returning students. The one thing returning students all have said is they wished they had taken more college prep courses in high school as opposed to their trade classes. While the trade classes helped them find first careers it left them ill-prepared for the college courses they needed for advancement or career changes forced by unemployment. This has left me believing that even if you want to go into the skilled trades prepare for the possibility of college later on.

The other piece of advice I have for you is about AP (Advance Placement) classes. I don't recommend them for math and science. During the past 20 years I have seen a steady decline in my students' math abilities. Most of my traditional freshmen start calculus in high school but they never learned basic algebra skills. So while they can do the advanced math they can't do the simple stuff they need in support of the advanced stuff. So, too many students come out of their AP classes with credit for freshman level math and physics but are very ill prepared for the sophomore level classes they go into. They spend a lot of time playing catch up to the students who took the freshman level classes.

Sorry for the long post

psalite said...

You know ,I choose my career by 8th grade.Now at 45 I wish I had chosen a different career.
My sister is convinced is that the reason for midlife crisis is that we force children to choose career paths by 18

Mabunny said...

Wow, no pressure there for sure ( read that line with sarcasm...)

When I went to school here in Texas, junior high was considered 7th-9th grade and HS was 10-12th.
How did it get turned around to middle school being 4-6. jr high only 7-8 and HS 9-12?
way weird...

Lucrecia said...

When my son started high school 2 years ago - we had a long talk about how real life began when he started high school - not when he finished it. It still has not sunk in with him.

I wish they couldd stay young and carefree longer :(

Mary G said...

My son, who is 5, by the way, told me the other day that he wants to be a Marine Biologist and then he wants to retire and write books about marine animals. Yes, he's only 5! He's started writing his own "chapter book" at home...

Me, Myself and I said...

Well, I know that it sounds very overwhelming to a 13 year old and the parent too... but honestly.. mine are Seniors (yes.. I AM ancient!!) and they have both changed their minds each year they have been in HS. Every year the counselors sit down with them and go over the 4 year plan again and see if they still think they want to follow that track and if not... they change the classes that they will be taking next year. It really isn't set in stone :) It's really is a great way to get them thinking though. At least this way by the time they get to college they have thought about it enough they won't have to spend all four years trying to decide.

Good Luck!!! And savor the moment!!!

heidi said...

I had that same thing when I was in 8th grade. It literally gave me a panic attack. I figured out for sure what I wanted to do around junior year in high school (I was always interested in medicine) but in 8th grade who could even think that far ahead to college?!

I'm in my senior year of college now and I still can't even think more than a week ahead. Hmm.

Valerie said...

It is sad but true... "life" begins early. Before I had my baby, I taught 1st grade and we went through a horrible few years when our elementary school/county was trying to help focus the kids on their future goals... we even had to go visit college campus and find fun appropriate things for the kids to do... to expose them to the world of higher education. Ok, so does a field trip to college sound fun and appropriate for a 6 year old??? Thankfully someone got a life and realized that perhaps kindergarteners and first graders didn't need to be quite so college focused. Learning to read would be good too!

Anonymous said...

Are you talking about Austin or Jackson? You've put both boys' names within the conversation. Sorry to notice the typo, it's what MY job is, lol.

I have a 10th grader whom I thought would give us career-decision troubles, but alas, he's finally chosen a field that the high school incorporates as an ROP class. The administrators don't really want that final choice in 8th grade, they just want the smart kids to take the college prep classes rather than the general classes. Like Advanced Lit over basic Language Arts.
Don't worry, your son will survive and maybe even have fun!

Geev said...

I wish I had more direction in HS like Jackson is getting. I'm the same age as you Dawn and I got the whole "just graduate" lecture from my HS counselor and parents and then when I hit college I was in a fog. I've been in college for 20 years trying to figure out what I want to do with my life!

But now there is a very cool thing you can do to help Jackson . . . College Career Counselors! Oh yes, there is a whole field of folks who will help your child identify what they want to do, help them select their HS classes and start them on their college application portfolio's (kids now needs sports and community involvement to be "considered" at some university's). But the best part of it all is that now your child has someone else they need to answer to so you, as a parent, avoid the "bad grade" arguments and discussions.

Something to think about!

Dawn said...

To anonymous,
It wasn't a typo. I was talking about Austin who is in 8th grade. However, Jackson, my 10 year old, piped up and added his bakery idea to the conversation.

Deirdre said...

Hey Dawn,
I have a 12yo 8th grader too, and Open House at his school was filled with High School planning, college tracking etc...
I agree with the Physics prof. that the AP science/math coursework is over rated, in that students who take them lag behind in the 2nd year work; they just don't have enough time to finish the book. They learn enough to score well on the exams but not for the subsequent courses.
The History/ English ones are better as they leave you with more options: more interesting classes than English 101/102 and American History 101, etc

He's going to do whatever he's going to do, you really can only encourage, support, and lead by example. (Read: pray and hold your breath!!)

Chelf said...

Jackson has the right idea. He knows that cookies make him happy, and what better way to get them than to decide which are the "dirty shames" (MIL calls the broken ones that, 'cause it is a Dirty Shame that she has to eat them!).

I still don't know what I want to do, and I am 34. I never finished college. My hubby is actually working in a field that uses his degree. Very rare.

Potential is not the bad thing we have always thought. Expectations... now there is your bad advice gone wild.

Good luck to Austin, making all those adult decisions so young. I just hope he is never afraid to change if he finds a better choice.

Dawn in Michigan said...

Dawn,

I know how you feel, my oldest is 12 and in 8th grade. Her shcool is talking about a 4 year plan too. One of the things that the students in her school have to do in 8th grade is put together a portfolio of school work done throughout middle school (6, 7 & 8) that they got good grade on or are proud of. Then they take that portfolio and sit down with some professionals that come from different businesses in the area to do mock interviews. I don't understand how this is benefiting them at age 12/13 to be trying to pass an interview.

At least she has been pretty steady on what she wants to do when she "grows up" for quite a while now. She wants to be a marine biologist specializing in marine mammals. Too bad we don't live near an ocean or she could have already been doing research, the only water we have near is the Great Lakes.

Susan said...

LOL,I love Austin's thinking!! I knew I didn't want to do anything that I had to go to college for but my parents did not give me a choice of going to college or not. I told them that it wasn't for me and they said too bad, pick one or we are picking for you. Guess what? It wasn't for me and all and all I got out of it was a bunch of debt that I had to pay myself. I love my life and even though I probably missed out on the fun college days of partying and meeting great people I don't miss sitting in classes for hours on end being lectured to and being quizzed on things I don't even remember being covered when I went to class every day.

Evanna said...

Poor kids get so rushed these days. I homeschool my children and 1/2 of my daughter's 7th grade social studies this year is all about careers. There's a 3-page chart of possible jobs and you are to check mark the column that indicates your level of interest in each one. The problem is that my daughter has OCD and a generalized anxiety disorder so is in tears frequently worried that she has to be whatever it is she's reading about. :-/ At 12-years-old all she wants to do is sing ... and as of yesterday's announcement, marry an exterminator. I guess he can then rid her world of every kind of bug! :-) There's her long-term plan. lol!

Covey and Justin said...

Dawn--let him take whatever he wants. I graduated Highest Honors with a Masters in Biomedical Engineering then moved to a small town and became a SAHM. I love my life and will not go back to my "chosen" career. I plan to take classes at the community college and get a degree in something I will actually enjoy and go back to work once my munchkins are in school. Don't sweat it. I wish I had gone and worked for a few years before doing the college thing--I would have had more of a clue. Of course I am glad I did go to college when I did, I met my hubby there :)
Good Luck--I am about 11 years away from that situation!

Melissa said...

Are the classes you're talking about (that let you earn college credit) Advanced Placement or International Baccaularete (sp?) classes? If so, they're pretty cool to take advantage of. One way to think of them is that they get rid of the need to take GE classes in college, freeing you to take more classes that you're interested in. For example, I passed 8 AP classes (ok, that's overboard though...) Not all of them were accepted by my university, but at least a few were, so I didn't have to take boring classes like Political Science and Intro Calc. Instead, I took Sign Language and Spanish Lit, which I was much more excited about. That being said... I think the uni tested me up too high, and I wasn't ready for the next level of Calc they put me in. But AP motivated me to study and learn more than regular HS classes would have.

That's pretty crazy that they're asking him to think about his career path already though. Does he at least know what sorts of classes he likes (math, literature, science)?

Crazy Raven Productions said...

Yeesh! Talk about forcing kids to grow up fast! I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up and I'm 33. I went through 3 majors, took a couple years off along the way (Criminal Justice, Metalcraft & Jewelry, year and a half off, Communications, couple years off, more Communications, now 3 classes away from completion after 6 years off, no idea what I want to do with said degree IF I decide to finish it.)

If he has no idea what he wants, I'd say focus on the basics... math, science, lit, social studies. Maybe some part of one of those classes will inspire him. Maybe he'll get to skip some college classes (our school only had AP English and Physics, so I got English credit. Never took Physics.) Maybe it'll give him more questions than answers. But it'll get him thinking.

Pam said...

It boggles my mind why they *must* know these things so early! My 17 year old son is asked constantly what he will do after high school - his answer - I have no idea and right now I don't have to know!

Candi said...

My grandson is facing this issue now. After filling me in on what he's already achieved and all the questions he's answered in the process I noticed one question was never asked. He asked, so I suggested he make 2 lists. First, frequently ask yourself, "What do I like to do now that I could never imagine myself not wanting to do?" Make a list and ammend it as you mature. These are your passions, which help define your God-given purpose. They may change slightly over time, but there will be a distinct common thread. Second, create a living list of all the things you want to do in life. Read these 2 lists at least once a year (on your birthday?) and add or delete entries as your perspective changes. If nothing else you'll have created a verbal map of your life that will be interesting to read when you advise your grandchildren.

ComfyDenim said...

Wow.
I wish I'd thought of that...mmmm free cookies.

Sheila in Germany said...

At least that's better than here in Germany, where these decisions have to be made in FOURTH grade. At age ten, or even nine. Secondary school starts with fifth grade (except in Berlin, where it starts with seventh grade), and there are three different types of school: college prep (Gymansium) which finishes after 12th grade (used to be 13th, recently changed, maybe changing back, politicians are arguing...), "real school" (Realschule, finishes after 10th grade, at which point students can go to vocational school or the best ones can theoretically continue at Gymnasium), and "main school" (Hauptschule, finishes after 9th grade, very limited career choices after that, essentially a remedial school). Oh, and there's also "all together school" (Gesamtschule), which is theoretically the best of all three, but actually, the students are tracked there, too--they can't take Gymasium-level math and Hauptschule-level language, it's all or nothing.

Reason number 127 for homeschooling...

Anonymous said...

Way to go Austin! :) THAT would be MY dream job too! A bakery where you could eat your mistakes.
TOO MUCH PRESSURE on kids to decide now...ridiculous. LET THEM BE KIDS for heaven sakes!

Sarah Brooks said...

Cool Jackson! If they need anymore help let me know... I'm in!

Anonymous said...

As a teacher, I just have to say Thank you George Bush for No Child left Behind. Now we put pressure on kids to test well and to test often and leave creative thinking totally out of the picture. At my high school students/parents are required to sign a form when they enroll in 9th grade to state whether they will be taking courses on the college path or the technical school path. We should just be teaching our students to think and to problem solve. Please vote for anyone who will get rid of No Child Left Behind!

Britney said...

It's pretty early in the year for the four year plan/college talk, but as an 8th grade teacher I can attest to the fact that it's pretty standard to have one. My students start creating a four year plan right around Thanksgiving. It seems really overwhelming, but once the kids figure out most of their classes in high school are "fixed" (US History is an 11th grade course, Government is 12th,etc.), they calm down. Also, in my state (IN) kids have to have a certain number of credits in each subject to graduate, so it's really easy to fill a four year plan just by plugging in the required courses.

And honestly, no one follows the four year plan they make as an 8th grade student, so don't knock yourself out with it when the time comes. It can always be changed later if Austin decides he'd rather take an art class than a business class.

Kristine said...

Go Austin! My 7 yo wants to be a chef. The 9yo, paleontologist. All I want from my kids in high school is for them to be able to apply to most colleges. That means taking math, science and probably a language. And getting decent grades. Hopefully by the time they're done with high school, they'll have some idea of what they want to do in college . . .

Ali A said...

Man I turn 26 next wensday and still have no idea what I want to do!

Did you hear about this.

http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/26867370/

Brought tears to my eyes. Poor Dad.

Carrie said...

Jackson cracks me up. My son wants to work at Krispy Kreme for that same reason...free donuts. Or he wants to be an ice cream truck driver, free ice cream. Now his daddy works part-time at Maggie Moos (a specialty ice cream shop) and now he wants to do that as well...free YUMMY ice cream. Anything involving sugar laced food and he is there.

Marylynn said...

Maybe Jackson will grow up to be a cookie baking brain surgeon. Now THAT'S a life goal that any mother should and would be proud of!!

http://organizeddoodles.blogspot.com/

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

I believe you're talking about AP courses - if you do well on the AP exam, you might (might) get some college credit. It depends. I did well on English and Math, but my university wouldn't give me credit on either unless I was majoring in one or the other. Thanks a lot. The kids would be better off dual-enrolling in community college, where they would get actual college credit, in my opinion.

I'm with him on the bakery job. Yum!

Angie said...

As someone who currently teaches at a university and graduated not that long ago, I just couldn't resist giving my 2 cents. I agree that it's totally unreasonable to ask a middle schooler (or high schooler or college student or recent graduate.....) to plan out the rest of their life. However, taking college-prep courses in high school can really pay off when it comes time for college, no matter what your major and career end up being. Building a good record that will get you into college doesn't happen overnight. He needs to take classes that will prepare him for the workload of college and that will reflect well on his college applications. When I was a HS student I took every college class I could including optional advanced classes like Calculus. In the end, I had one semester of college free, tested out of lots of requirements (like math classes :) , and had a great record. That good record really paid off when it got me into a private, liberal arts college that offers all students free tuition. (http://www.berea.edu/) So, no, he doesn't have to plan out his whole life right now. But if he wants to go to college he should be making decisions that will make it easy to get in four years from now.

a mom serving her 2 kids! said...

My daughter is in 9th grade, so we went thru all of the long term planning last year.

Fortunately, she knows what she wants to be-a pediatric pulmonologist. She has known this for 4 years. Unfortunately for me, it is going to cost alot of money.....

Anonymous said...

Well I have a senior this year and she has just now figured out what she wanted to do. All of her friends have taken dual credit course, but I wouldn't let her. I wanted her to be a kid as long as she could. She is finally taking a college algebra class this year. I also found out that if you take all those courses if you want to go the Junior college direction most of the time you can only do one year because you have already taken all the courses. My daughters wants to play softball in college and wants to go the junior college route so we did the right thing. I guess it depends on your kid.... Good luck... I only have two more behind this one, so I'll keep praying for you....You'll need it...LOL.. Dede

Mendi S said...

My daughter was in tears for a week when she went through this in 8th grade. She kept saying "i'm just a kid, how do I know what I'll like when I grow up?". I just told her not to sweat it because most grown ups still don't know what they want to do. When she was younger, she wanted to be a ballerina/dog walker/doctor. Funny, she always hated walking our dog.

Lisa said...

I have a 13-year-old son too. He wants to be a baseball player -- specifically he is certain he will be plaing third base for the New York Mets when he grows up.

You can be certain that I will never, ever tell him that he likely won't be playing for the Mets -- that the chances of him becoming a professional baseball player are minute.. That's his dream, and it's not my place to stomp on it. I admire his passion for fulfilling that dream more than I admire anything on earth. I am sure the day will come when he realizes that he either has what it takes to be a professional baseball player, or that he needs a "Plan B." When that day comes, I'll be here ready to support him wherever his life's path takes him.

I went to his middle school, 8th grade parent/teacher night recently, and I was amazed that the entire focus of the evening was about preparing the 8th grade students for high school. It seemed like the teachers had completely forgotten that 8th grade has just begun. They also discussed careers. I was tempted to say that my son didn't need to worry about that since he had already chosen his career -- and that he would be playing third base for the Mets, but I decided to keep my mouth shut. :o)

By the way, I am VP at a large corporation, and by some standards considered successful. I have a master's degree, and I work hard to support my family. But, my day job is not my dream or my chosen career. My dream is to sell belts, and lots of them, and you can be certain that there isn't one person out there who can convince me that I can't!

Julia said...

Hey Dawn, as a freshman in college I promise you (and Austin) that it's okay. They're making that up about eighth graders having to know what they want to do with their lives. When I was in eighth grade I think I still wanted to be a doctor or an astronaut? I don't even know. But they told me the same thing. In all honesty, you don't HAVE to take specific classes in high school to get where you need to be in college. You can decide what you wanna do once you're there. I figured out senior year that I wanted to teach Spanish. So here I am. Learning how to do that. And the fact of the matter is, my university has made it very clear that if I realize this isn't what I want? THAT'S OKAY! And they're here to help fix it and get me where I need to be. I'm hearing the same things from all my friends at other schools too. So no. Don't worry. He's not stuck having to figure out his whole entire life at 13 years old. He'll be JUST FINE (and so will you). Relaxation is key even though I know how hard that is in your house sometimes. =)

Michelle said...

It's all ok. The good news is that the schools are just trying to get you to panic and focus so THEIR test scores go up so they get rated well so they don't lose funds blah blah blah. As long as he's fairly well rounded and gets through the basics fine, he can do whatever he wants. Even if he doesn't figure it out until he's 37. Witness my sister starting vet school in Champaign this fall at the age of 31.

oh, and what's the deal with suddenly posting daily when I finally figured out the reader thing but you blog can't be read by the reader and I keep forgetting to manually check it so now I have four posts to read? :)

mommeeof9 said...

I can guarantee that if he joined the military, he would decide after 4 years that it was not a good career choice. He'd also have money for college...

Anonymous said...

On a very hot summer day so miserable out we were staying in for the afternoon, I read a book to my 4 year old, it was about being a policeman, fireman etc. At the end of the book, I asked him, what would you like to be a policeman or fireman when you grow up? He hestitated then with a glint in his eyes, and a huge grin, he stated, I want to be the ice cream man. One of my favorite memories!!

Marit in boise said...

As a mom to 2 high school kids ( and having a bad attitude towards this topic myself since I was about 8 ) I had to comment. First, I think they don't care what your kid studies. I think they care that your kid is thinking toward the future. Sure, he can change his mind, but the kids who don't have plans for after high school are not the ones who succeed. They don't care and don't try and have a much higher drop out rate. That leads to the low self - esteem that can take years and a GED to overcome.

Second, I hated this as a kid almost as much as being asked what my dad did for a living. Afterall, what my dad does has little if anything to do with me. You see, the person asking will immediately make judgements of me and my father based on his education, wealth, field of study, and profession. He might be a total jerk or he might be a genius who loves to do what he is doing. Whether he is a garbage collector, or a Judge, who cares?

So, to drive that question away, when people asked me what my dad did for a living, I just told them he was a sex therapist. It completely ended conversations. He was actually a PhD Mechanical Engineer and Professor.

When asked what I wanted to be when I grow up, people judged me for it. If I wanted to be a baker so I could eat the cookies, kudos! But if I wanted to be a lawyer so I could be rich, that was better. Well, I told teachers in essays that I wanted to be a sumo wrestler. I told friends or classmates that I wanted to be a prostitute. That usually stopped them from bothering me on that subject. I laughed inside and felt like I won on that subject that bothered me so much. I refused to be keyholed!

The best answer I have ever heard on this subject however came from a very wise young man once. He was asked what he wants to be when he grows up and his response was, "A person."

And yes, he was your son....

Marit in Boise said...

PS, I stopped saying, when I grow up I want to....

Now I say, when you grow up, I want to....

Afterall, I only have 15 more years to go before I have an empty house!

Marit in Boise again! said...

Have to add ONE more comment!

my son wanted to be a candlestick maker for 7 years after preschool. He is now in the gifted track in 7th grade middle school.

My daughter wants to go to college to study spelling and sneaking up on people. And she wants to be the tooth fairy when she grows up.
She is almost 8.

And my youngest wants to be a monkey when she grows up. She is 3.

I just want them to grow up! -But not too fast.

Stressed Out said...

I have four children - 20, 18, 11, and 9. When my 20 year-old was in high school, they said NO WAY on dual enrolling in the local college, but she did earn 13 credits from her AP classes. The next year, with my next child (who is just a year behind her in school since he skipped a grade) I again went to the principal and since he knew my daughter had graduated 2nd in her class he said "SURE your sone can dual enroll in the college!" and then my son said NO WAY (UGH!!!) However, he took more AP classes than her and ended up with 26 credits for college. Long story short, She's a junior and he's a junior. He'll graduate 2 months after he turns 20. Sickening. But, over the last 2 years, we've only paid - not kidding - $1200 in tuition for him because he got a full ride at that local college. THe oldest, on the other hand, turned it down and went to a big 10 school at $22k per year (with room and board.)
If I knew then what I know now -
I'd FORCE the school to have them take their PSAT's - they're "optional" at our school, so they don't really advertise them. GREAT scholarship money there.
We live in Michigan, and the MI MEAP tests are another source of money ($$4k for my son, $2K for the oldest) - the only thing is if you want your child to POSSIBLY dual enroll in their senior year, you have to request they take the MEAP their sophomore year because they need the score from that to determine if they can dual enroll (or so my school district says). The 4 year plan is really a precurser to the BIG 4-year plan (which in both my kids cases is the 6- or 8-year plan since they both want to do something that requires grad school) Of course, it could happen that 2 days before the start of his freshman in college, your son can change his major just like mine did - for the 3rd time in 6 months! That's what happens when you get to college at 17!
My oldest wants to be a social worker. She'll have her undergrad in Psychology.
My 2nd wants to be a physical therapist. His undergrad will be in athletic training.
My 3rd can't decide between a vet and a dentist (plenty of time there!)
My 4th wants to be a mom or a scientist (I say why not both?)
Me - I finish my BSN in nursing in December. All that stuff I learned about getting my kids through college is actually helping me. Yes, three in college at one time. My husband is a saint - works like a dog to afford us all. I just know it'll be worth it!

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