high school seniors career choice african american children of color parents

Teenager Reality Check: What You Want to Be vs. What it Will Take to Actually Do It

Posted on Posted in Blog, Color Me Educated

Teenager Reality Check: What You Want to Be vs. What it Will Take to Actually Do It

Did you ever have to meet with the career counselor? Back in my day you told the guidance counselor what you had in mind for your after high school plans and gauged their face to see if they thought you could actually pull it off.  Nowadays the career set up is totally different.  My teen met with a career advisor as early as middle school.  From there she got to take a career aptitude test, then she was able to choose from a Walmart warehouse sized list of careers and told she could choose any ‘major’ her little heart desired.  Why did they lie to my little girl like that?
Well…maybe they didn’t lie; maybe it’s more like not revealing the entire truth.  Our kiddos can be on the right track academically.  Even if they are they also need to know that choosing a career is not only about a great GPA and SAT scores but also about whether they are mentally prepared to pursue it.  And I’m not talking study habits.
For instance if one of our kiddos talked of nothing but being a neurosurgeon or engineer they need more than our support in succeeding in honors and AP science and math classes. We will inform them that according to a report, Engineering by the Numbers, bachelor’s degrees in engineering in 2011 by ethnicity were as follows:
4.2 % Black
8.5 % Hispanic
12.2 % Asian/Pacific Islander  
66 % White
It’s important to tell them that at this point in history they may reach a day where they will be in a class or internship of many people who will not look like them.  Therefore when they encounter teachers or professors who don't support their dream (or don't make the road to get there any easier) or when they look around the classroom and see they are the only brown or black face they won't be surprised nor discouraged because they already knew the odds.
Hopefully mental preparation paired with academic preparation will ward off any I don’t have what it takes to pursue my career feelings.  We don’t want the kiddos to ever look around a room of faces not like their own and think, ‘what in the hell am I doing here.’ Because the truth is, at least according to this household, that while they can choose any career their little heart’s desire, they need to not only know what it takes but also understand what they will need to overcome in order to get there.


How do you prepare your kiddos to deal with being the ‘only one’?




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