Friday, November 9, 2007

College Already?

The Island Girl will be starting high school next year and last night her middle school had a parent meeting to educate us on the ins and outs of starting high school. At least that's what the meeting was supposed to be about. I went in and sat down next to a friend of mine, ready to hear about choosing courses and high school life. What I got was a crash course in college admissions. The entire meeting focused on getting into college. Last year it was decided that all 9th graders must choose a degree path upon entering high school so there was some discussion about helping your child choose a field of study. What? How on earth can a 13 year old possibly know what they want to be when they grow up? They aren't even old enough to know what the world has to offer so how can they pick a path at this age? To my relief, they say that the child can change their mind as many times as they wish during high school but they must declare a major at the beginning of each year. Apparently this is so they can take focused classes in their field of study. What happened to taking a little of everything in high school? How will a child even know they are interested in history if they are busy taking all science classes? Or that they love to write if they are completely immersed in math? The speakers then moved on to how important it is for high school kids to take as many advanced placement courses as possible because these courses count as college credits and by taking all AP classes in high school they can skip their first year of college and this will save each family a ton of money and get these kids out into the real world faster. The speaker told us that his son took all AP courses in high school and then fast tracked through college and landed a spot in law school at the age of 19. "He's the youngest student any law school in the state has ever had and will be a working lawyer by the time he's 23". Well that's great but I really wanted to ask him how many people are going to hire a 23 year old lawyer. He'd have to pay me to let him handle my legal affairs at that age LOL They talked about the AP courses keeping the kids busy with at least 5 hours of homework each night and usually about that much on the weekends but that it is really important to slip a sport or community service into their schedule as well. So I guess kids are done being kids when they get to high school and it's straight to the grindstone for them. I have to say I completely disagree with that. Once they reach adulthood they will spend the rest of their lives working hard to feed their families and there will be little time for fun until they retire. The Island Girl is a straight A student, has an incredible math brain (that she gets from her father) reads books like they were going out of style (she gets that from me)and is in all advanced classes. I know she will do well in the advanced classes in high school and I wouldn't dream of putting her in regular classes where she would get bored but I think high school should be high school. Advanced classes are great in that she will be challenged and these classes will open her eyes to so many things but I just don't see the need to push her to finish her first year of college at the same time she's going to high school. I want her to go to football games and dances, play a sport and spend time with her friends just being a kid. I was sitting there thinking all of this and then wondering if I'm an underachiever when my friend leaned over and said she thought this was crazy. I told her I was glad to hear her say that because I was starting to feel like a slacker LOL One mom stood up and said this was all great for the really advanced kids but what about the average child who would not do well in advanced classes. The speaker actually told this woman that there are a lot of good tech schools in our area that she may want to look into. I couldn't believe my ears! This woman is saying she has an average kid who probably won't do well in college courses at 14 and she's told to look into tech schools? She said that she doesn't doubt her child's ability to succeed in college - when he's college age. The speaker tells her that unless he takes a lot of the AP courses in high school he probably won't be accepted into a college anyway. I'm glad this woman wasn't armed because she looked like she wanted to shoot his head off with both barrels. By now we were 2 1/2 hours into this meeting (it was supposed to last 1 1/2 hours) and I had just had enough. The meeting outline showed that we still had 4 more speakers but I couldn't take any more. I slipped out the back door and headed for home. In the car I kept going over everything I'd learned and I just don't know what to think. I want my daughter to succeed and I want her to go to a good college but I also want her to have a childhood. And I don't want her to burn out by the time she's 25. I finally decided that she can take as many AP courses as she wants to but that I'm not going to push too hard. We set high standards for her because we know how smart she is and I'm not going to let that slip but at the same time she doesn't have to do college at 14 if she doesn't want to. I prayed really hard about this last night and I hope I'm doing the right thing. Her 14th birthday is tomorrow and as far as I'm concerned she can spend her first year of high school being 14. She'll have plenty of time to be an adult but for now she's a kid - and I'm going let her be a kid.
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