In the teenage years, it is very difficult to envision that far-distant adult world of professional employment, building a family, or having a boss. Even more difficult is having the discipline to prepare for that eventuality. Nonetheless, it is tremendously useful for those junior and senior high school students who aspire to great things in life to set big goals for themselves – long-term objectives that can be reached by achieving a string of shorter-term, incremental goals along the way.
When the educational consultants at Informed Educational Solutions begin to develop an education plan for a new client, among the first things to discus is where the student wants to be at the age of 30, for example. In some cases, the student’s goals can be so advanced that formal educational training will not have concluded by that age. More often than not, however, younger students are able to visualize their future, at least in general terms. If the goal is to live in a beach house in Malibu that includes an architectural design studio (and we have had this very scenario presented by an eighth grader not long ago), several parts of the long-term goal become clear immediately.
First, to accomplish that goal, the person will have been required to complete an architecture degree, either in an undergraduate five-year program or as a bachelor’s and master of architecture in six years. Since living on the beach in Malibu requires substantial income, a job with a major design firm is essential. To achieve that, the degree(s) must come from a highly reputable university. To get there, the student will have had to earn solid grades and test scores in high school, as well as a transcript that includes calculus and physics, at a minimum. Time should be spent on the US Department of Labor website (www.bls.gov/ooh) assessing projections for future jobs in architecture. What about an internship in a local architecture firm?
To be sure that the high school years provide enough time to include AB Calculus, if possible, pre-calc should come not later than grade 11 and Algebra 2 with Trig should be taken in 10th grade. That means that Geometry needs to fit into grade 9 and Algebra 1 in the eighth grade.
What we have presented in this brief education plan is really a series of small steps which, when proposed to the junior high client, create a game plan made up of small goals, each one reasonable and leading to the next. In effect, we work backwards from the ultimate goal to the present day and create a digestible plan for the future. It doesn’t really matter whether the long-term vision changes over time. The message is the same: Start here; take these courses; do test prep, if necessary; apply to this range of schools; try to get this or that internship; look for jobs in this or that market, at design firms with these credentials.
When encouraged to approach the future with a set of goals in mind, kids tend to respond well, often noting that they actually prefer having goals to shoot for along the path to adulthood. It may even be fair to say that the junior high years are as bleak as childhood can get for many students. Neither child nor adult, kids of this age have no power or authority in their own lives, often lack direction, and seem to be looking for meaning where little can be found. The idea of introducing a detailed education plan to kids within this age group is one whose time has come. Small goals, piled high, add up to the realization of big goals – serious accomplishment without having to consciously acknowledge it.
Carter P. Reese Informed Educational Solutions
This is the third in a series of blogs written for parents of younger students, junior high age or so, who are thinking ahead about college admissions. We firmly believe that planning ahead can yield enormous benefits, and reduce anxiety about the transition from high school to college.