Saturday, March 7, 2015

Where do we go next? College?

In the Spring semester of my junior year in high school, I'm pretty sure my biggest worry was whether or not I would get selected again to be a twirler with the band. I don't remember fretting about college, ACT, SAT, career choices, standing in my class, or any of the things that seem to be worrying my daughters on a daily basis.

I always say that when I went to college, there were really only two choices for women - either teaching or nursing and since I was scared of the sight of blood, then I chose teaching. There was no career counseling or if there was, I did not know to access it, so when I graduated I realized the market was flooded with teacher applicants. It took nine months to find a job and the salary was a whopping $8600 a year! I lasted a whole 4.5 years teaching before I decided I wanted to earn more money and quit teaching and never looked back! At one point in my life, I quit a good paying job, went back for my masters degree and still did not do any exploration as to what this new career would pay. So when I graduated after 2.5 years, I was earning about $20,000 less per year! Brilliant, huh? Loved the job, just couldn't afford to spit with the earnings though.

My girls are looking at salary as a primary determinant in their career choices. They realize our money is always tight and they would prefer to do something to allow them to do more. Salary is not the only deciding factor, of course, but they do see the difference it makes.

My sister had gone to school at Abilene Christian and since I always did what she did, I guess I just assumed I would go there too. I had seen the college when we dropped her off and knew of the one where my dad had attended years before and I think that was my extent of college visits.

The school my daughters go to really emphasizes that everyone go to college so they have taken them to visit a number of college campuses for a visit. They have seen a few that they liked, but none seem to be the perfect match. We hope to visit some other campuses this week during spring break, so they can quit stressing over it.

I found out that all I needed to take was the ACT test and after taking the PSAT, took the test. I did not know about taking prep classes, buying study guides, and the Internet was decades away! My girls worry because most of their classmates have been in a SAT prep class since they were freshmen! When we had a slumber party, one girl had to leave at 6:00 am to attend her prep class! So far we've tried a prep class, but with their schedules, there really was no time to add another class of 4 hours on Saturdays, so we have just invested in a few of the study guide books. Grace is registered to take the test this spring, but Annabel thinks she would like to wait a while.

Not until I was about to graduate, did it dawn on me that my grades would influence anything. I probably should have known that earlier so maybe I would have tried harder. This ignorance followed me to college where until I was ready to graduate, did not know that you could graduate with a special declaration of Magna cum laude, summa cum laude, and cum laude, which surprisingly I received. As competitive as I am, I surely would have worked harder to get a higher rank. The awareness of these honors did follow me to my master's degree, where I worked hard to get straight A's only to find out you don't get those honors! Lesson learned too late.

My girls check on their grades regularly. The school does not allow them to know their class ranking until their senior year, but they know if they are in the top 25%, 50%, and 75%. They fret over this regularly as well. I'm pretty sure I graduated 42 in my class, but that means nothing since I don't know how many were in my class!
I hope to help my girls avoid some of my errors I made in my decisions, but I know each one of those decisions I made, finally led me to them, so I don't regret any of them. I just hope I can be like my parents and accept the decisions they choose as mine did for me. None of us have a looking glass to see how each decision will lead to the next.