Over the weekend I came across an interesting article in the New York Times called “Plan B: Skip College”. According to the Department of Education, “no more than half of those who began a four-year bachelorâ€™s degree program in the fall of 2006 will get that degree within six years.” Even more shocking, “fï»¿ï»¿or college students who ranked among the bottom quarter of their high school classes, the numbers are even more stark: 80 percent will probably never get a bachelorâ€™s degree or even a two-year associateâ€™s degree!”
As disturbing as this numbers may be, I must confess that it didn’t surprise me at all. I realized a while back that ï»¿not everyone is ready for college after high school! Heck, some may not ever be ready!
At 18-years-old I considered myself ready for the world. High school graduation was only a few months away, and the crazy period of SATs and college applications was well behind me. All of my 5 college applications had been accepted and my school of choice,Â Pace University, had already sent me their welcome letter and a package preparing me for my first semester.
My major wasÂ Biochemistry and for the next 4 years I experienced first hand what it is like to attend a higher education institution in the United States. I still remember the massive number of students who had registered for Chemistry 101 during my first semester as a freshman and how impressed I was with the size of the classroom. However, as the years progressed it became clear to me that my road was not one of the most frequentlyÂ traveledÂ paths out there. By the time I was a senior, classes with 5 or less students were a common thing.
Fast-forward a decade or so, and I am now a father of 2 little girls. Among the many fatherly duties I (happily) perform, I’m very much involved in the education of the future of the Maciel clan. Third grade was a long time ago for me but I try my best to get up to speed with the latest teaching trends to make sure I don’t complicate things. I also often meet with the teachers and basically try to make sure that my kids have all the tools they need to have a good time at school. That is not to say that I’m one of those parents who enroll their kids in every single possible extra curricular activity in the book. I have a very laid back policy with my kids and most of the time I leave it up to them to decide what they want to do with their free time (the exception to that rule is swimming classes to which I literally have to drag my oldest every Saturday morning).
So through the years I came to the conclusion that when the time is right and my kids start contemplating their future after high school, I hope that my girls will have arranged for some internships during their Summer breaks in the areas where they think they want to pursue as their major. By then I also hope to be mentally prepared to encourage them to go out and see the world a bit on their own. See different places, people and experience different cultures, even if that may mean taking a year off after high school!
Going to college is a pretty big decision for a lot of people, and at around 18-years of age, it is no wonder many end up choosing something they think is cool at that moment… only to see a couple of years down the road that being a nuclear physicist is not exactly the chick magnet you thought it would be (no offense to ï»¿nuclear physicists).
The thought of seeing my girls leave my house and start their own journeys is something that gives me an empty feeling in the pit of my stomach, but I guess I still have some time to get used to the idea that eventually, all kids leave their home. Until then, I’ll just keep on doing my best to be a supportive dad and prepare them as much as I can for the real world!
By the way, I did complete my Biochemistry degree and went on to pursue a career as a scientist. Unfortunately my Bachelor degree wasn’t good enough to land me a good job after college, and to make a long story short, my current job is not even remotely related to biochemistry, but that is a story for another post. :)