College and career ready?

There is a big push in Kentucky high schools and I'm assuming it may be nationwide to not just graduate kids but to graduate them ready for something. We ask 8th graders what they want to be when they grow up and they spend the rest of high school taking classes to prepare them for that. While I'm sure some kids know what they want to do and this is a great thing. If we can graduate high schoolers that are already certified nursing assistants that is awesome. If we can graduate students that have child care experience, that's good. Kids ready to farm, weld, mechanic etc...great. But that leaves a large group of kids out.

I'm not sure it's necessarily good for everyone. What about the kids that know they want college but have no clue what they want to be. What about the kids that are artistic an want to do band, choir, speech etc but have said they want to be a doctor. They miss out on all of those artistic classes in order to take classes that won't necessarily help them. 

I know times have changed since I graduated, but I love that we had a list of classes and we developed our schedules based on our interests while still being true to the college admission requirements. 

I changed my major 5 times in college. I could have loaded up on a pathway that would have meant anything when I graduated. Instead I took what I needed to get accepted and then broadened my interests with subjects I thought I enjoyed. Which in the end made me a better, more well rounded college student. 

After high school orientation, I really felt like the school was trying to punk me. According to the principle up until this year they allowed kids to retake tests that they didn't like the grades on. I knew the elementary and middle schools did that, but it just seemed like retaking tests isn't a good way to actually prepare high school kids for life. According to the guidance counselor a former student came back to talk to the principal because he was "traumatized" their word not mine. Apparently his college professor laughed at him when he failed his first test of the semester and asked when the retake was. Am I the only person that saw that one who that one coming? I have serious reservations about public high school. I think what may have been the saddest was there were parents concerned that is was a bad move. I whispered to Em that even with her dyslexia, I had no doubts she could study for and pass a test. If other kids are struggling that badly maybe there needs to be a study skills/time management class. Oh yeah, I almost forgot. Parents really push for a specific class or set time for their kids to research colleges, and apply to them.....during school. I remember when I was a senior. I did all of that at home outside of school, while participating in two after school activities (band and swimming).

I'm really trying to decide which group I think are more nutty, parents or the school administrators. 


  1. I'd say it's a combination of both.

    First we have the long-standing drive for school administrations to never be remotely responsible for *anything* that *anyone* could conceivably attempt to sue them over. The simplest way for them to do that is to take an absolute zero-tolerance stance on even the most minor behavioral issues, take an equally absolute permissive stance on academic issues, and then willfully ignore context for both in the name of even-handedness. (Legally, it's often easier to get away with a uniform application of bad policy than a nuanced application of a good one, so that's what we get.)

    Then we have parents- and to a growing extent, society as a whole- viewing education as primarily an investment in job training. On the one hand, this is sort of understandable with tuition costs being what they are. On the other, that's supposed to be what trade schools are for, and we wouldn't be in this mess if vocational training didn't carry such a "lower-class" stigma. The result is a feeling that, because education is expensive, parents are owed a certain return on the investment regardless of circumstances (like, say, their child's lack of performance or the lack of local jobs in the field of study); and the idea that because they're paying for it, they shouldn't have to put forth any further effort as parents to see results.

    What we need is a destigmatization of vocational training, a rediscovery of the idea of craftsmanship, and a push away from "everybody needs to go to college" and more towards "everyone should further their secondary education, regardless of what form it takes." (Germany, for example, gets this one right.) We'll probably not get it, at least not in the near future; the perception of anything less than a university degree being second-best undermines it too much, along with corporate cultures that love being able to demand job training from schools and unpaid internships rather than providing it themselves.

    /end rant

  2. I'd say it's the schools who are nutty, I want my kid to have fun. Who the hell knows what they want to be at 18 let alone in 8th grade?

  3. Parents can be pretty dang nutty.

    I don't think kids would really know what they want out of life by 8th grade. My son is going into 7th grade and if you ask him what he wants to do, he's all, "What?"

  4. This is really interesting.

    Personally, I think the way they do high school should be more like they do in other countries. There should be a college-bound track and a non-college bound track. Kids should be allowed to self-identify. I don't think their entire future should hinge on a test they take at 14 years old. But college isn't for everyone and it's time we de-stigmatize kids that don't feel like college is for them by helping them prepare for careers where they're going to make more money than their college bound friends anyway because they have a skill set that has to be learned through experience and not necessarily in the classroom.

    Sorry, that was a long-winded comment!

    1. Not long winded at all. I agree totally. Abbey knows she wants to go to college and she thinks she knows what she wants to do, but she wants to be able to take fun things, like band and speech and also take just the general college admission classes. Although when I was in high school my guidance counselor kept telling me I should be a hairstylist. Ummm no most days I leave my house with wet hair and let it dry natural. I would be terrible at that.


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