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maize

Questioning four year college path

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My 15 year old is very bright, academically capable, and doesn't love academics. She loves martial arts and dance and music. She spends as many hours as possible at the dojo every week, likes to compete, and was recently asked to be an assistant teacher (an honor that isn't usually bestowed until a candidate is preparing for black belt, she's a couple of belts away yet). 

She has a natural tendency towards anxiety and I have seen all this physical activity have a significant positive impact on her mental and social health. She is really thriving.

I've always assumed a traditional college path for my kids; my grandparents were from poor working class families and really encouraged their own children to go to college; my parents and aunts and uncles all have at least a bachelor's degree and so do all of my siblings and cousins. But I'm really wondering about it for this kid. Could she make a decent life for herself teaching karate and maybe dance? Maybe a two year degree to complement that? She wants to get married and have kids, and ideally work only part time (given the potential insecurity of not working at all during childrearing years I think it is wise for women to have at least some part time employment). 

I'm just kind of wondering about my own "college is the expected pathway" bias here. She's going into  tenth grade, and I'm working on planning for the next school year. Assuming college may mean a somewhat different emphasis, one that would help her get scholarships etc.; there are other possible paths including the local technical school that has a variety of certification programs and is mostly free for high school students.

Edited by maize
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My friend’s child with autism is going to community college after his senior year, her other same age child is aiming for pre-med. There is no tried and true path, just decide a semester at a time. Flexibility and adaptability is the key. 

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I think everyone is different.  We didn't require our kids to go to college, but we encouraged it unless we knew they were self-motivated and we were relatively assured they were ambitious enough to figure out a path for themselves without college.  This was harder for me than my dh.  He was much more relaxed about it all, whereas until we began really discussing it, it had never entered my mind that all our of our children might NOT go to college.

One dd chose not to go to college (partially due to health reasons, but other reasons too).  She chose instead to get experience on the job and work her way up that way.   Also, she's a musician so she has that as well.  She has not gotten a certificate or AA degree or any other training -- just self-training or on-the-job training.  (Although I could definitely see her deciding to get a certificate in something at some point.)

So, she started out as a waitress and then worked her way up and up and now manages an entire country club, while continuing to teach music and perform at various venues.  She is bright and ambitious, so we're not worried about her continuing to find her path in this way.   I think she's getting good on-the-job experience that will help move her along.  

We have another dd who really didn't want to go to college but had no other plans and not as much drive, so we didn't think it was a good idea at all for her to just not go.  We  strongly encouraged her to go, and she did, and she's very glad she did.  

I guess what I'm saying is that if you believe your dd has ambition and drive I certainly don't think college is necessary.  There are definitely other paths to take, and I'm a firm believer in that now.

I will add that as someone who has several family members in the medical field, I hear a lot that there are plenty of one-year certificates out there for very specific types of medical positions (usually involving how to run very specific types of machines) that pay well and are in demand.  So something like that is always an option, too.

I think only one of my kids knew what they wanted to do at age 15, and even that plan changed over time.   A lot can happen between now and when your dd needs to make a decision.  I'd certainly plan her high school curriculum in a way that keeps the option to attend college open, in either event.

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I don’t think all kids need to go to college, but I think that they need to have a few different plans that will allow them to support themselves if one of their other paths isn’t successful. A college degree has some built in flexibility when applying for positions that a non degree/certification  path doesn’t offer. I don’t know about careers in martial arts, but teaching dance would not be enough to support oneself. It is also a physically demanding job with hours that are not necessarily amenable to being home with children, especially if those children are schooled out of the home. While it may look like a great choice now, the physical demands and hours may not be as attractive in the future. 

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I don't know about your area, but in mine she would have to teach at a high level to be able to make a living, and own the business.

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I have one that is similar (with some differences). The most important thing is to not close any doors for her this early on in high school.

I'm hoping to give mine a super-senior year where she can try out college classes without as much stress as going full time would cause. (DE is full cost here. I'm not sure how academically ready she will be before her senior year.) She might start out with classes like Nutrition, Weight-Lifting, etc. that play into her interest in becoming a personal trainer. Then, she can ease into the more academic classes she may need.

So, we are leaving the plan open, but covering bases (like standardized test prep) no matter what she decides later.

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One of the nice things about nowadays is that you don't necessarily have to decide now. She could go to community college - even for something that is associated with traditional 4 year schools like music or dance - and then transfer. And you wouldn't have to push scholarship getting level work on her to get there. Her happiness has an important value too.

Have you asked her what she wants? Laid out these options? Like, if you want the option to go to a "good" traditional school, this is what you will need to do to ensure it, but these are some of the options if you don't like that path...

I agree with the idea that RootAnn says - you don't want to close any doors. But the truth is that paths are always closing or taking on different timetables. If a student who was language arts focused suddenly decides they want to go into a STEM program, you may not have done the "right" things for that and they may need to choose a less selective school than they would otherwise. Really, there are lots of things that you have to have done early or certain paths close. But it's not worth pushing every little thing. I mean, in my example, a student who isn't interested in STEM shouldn't have to take honors and AP science classes their freshman and sophomore years "just in case." I think the core idea that she have the option to apply to a four year school be there. There are lots of price points for four year schools.

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3 hours ago, maize said:

I've always assumed a traditional college path for my kids; my grandparents were from poor working class families and really encouraged their own children to go to college; my parents and aunts and uncles all have at least a bachelor's degree and so do all of my siblings and cousins. But I'm really wondering about it for this kid. Could she make a decent life for herself teaching karate and maybe dance? Maybe a two year degree to complement that? She wants to get married and have kids, and ideally work only part time (given the potential insecurity of not working at all during childrearing years I think it is wise for women to have at least some part time employment). 

One of the teachers at the dojo where my kids took lessons when they were little worked part time as an Occupational Therapy Assistant (CC 2 year program) as well as being in the National Guard. Those interests seemed to combine well and worked for her schedule with her son as well.

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For DS14 who wants to eventually be self employed, I told him that I would like him to take business law, finance/accounting and entrepreneurship as electives. DS13 says he wants to take business law as well so he knows his rights as an employee. 

Regentrude’s son was involved in dojo as well and he is now in college. 

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In martial arts, it is hard to make a living and run a topnotch studio in my area. In my son's particular style, the standards are high for getting certified to own a school and run the business and the rents are through the roof for a dojo-style space in my high COL area. Many school teachers, policemen, physiotherapists, and similar professionals come and teach at the dojo as a second job and also to get higher levels of blackbelts, but, I have not seen many full-time employees other than owners and a few senior instructors (just one or two per dojo).  So, she and you might want to research this option thoroughly before making a decision. Another interesting note regarding dance studios: my son also takes dance as a hobby and both his instructors have degrees in child psychology and work elsewhere in the daytime and teach dance in the evenings. It could be because of the COL in my area, but, I believe that it is similar in many big cities. A college degree always opens up more opportunities than an education that does not involve a degree. She may be forced to work fulltime due to the economy even if she did not intend to during her childrearing years or she might want to really be working outside the home later on. If I were you, I would encourage her to go to college. She can take a gap year if she/you do not feel ready for college.

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I'm not in one of those super high COL places, but I think that both the owner and chief floor instructor at our karate school both have other jobs.  I think one works some at the golf course (although he loves golf and may just work enough to play for free) and the other cuts grass.  All of the other instructors are definitely part time - some are college students and one works as a personal trainer (but used to be a teacher).  Also, everybody who teaches at our school earned their black belt at our school (athough some have trained in other martial arts with other people, too).  I don't know how common this is, though.  I have a younger kid who also wants to teach karate, so I've been giving thought to things that kiddo might want to do that would be compatible with a karate-teaching schedule.  

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I am in a similar situation with my dd who is going into 11th next year. The assumption/plan was always that she would go the 4 yr college route. That changed somewhere over the last couple years. She loves music, writing, and farming; she has no desire to pursue a 4 yr degree. 

I agree with pp, that the goal right now is to keep doors open. My dd will start DE classes next year. I am, for the most part, planning classes as if she will head to a 4 yr college to major in pre-vet. This was what she always wanted until recently. The big exception to this is foreign language. At this point it looks like she won't have any FL on her transcript. That may rule out a couple colleges, but it seems most are flexible on this so I'm willing to let it go.

I am still encouraging test prep. We are planning for her to take the ACT and PSAT next year. She definitely has the ability to get some scholarships if she does a bit of prep work. But my dd also has some anxiety issues, so if this needs to go, it will. 

I am not the type of person who thinks 4 yr college is necessary or ideal for most people. I know many people who make a great living with a 1 or 2 yr degrees/certificates. However, I still would like to see my dd go. She always wanted to, and I'm afraid she'll eventually regret it if she doesn't. I'm trying hard to keep that option open for her, just in case she changes her mind over the next couple years.

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Our family is all over the place in terms of our kids and what they are doing, everything from pursuing a PhD to 4 yr degree to 2 yr degree to high school diploma.

My Dd with a 2 yr degree makes more than a relative with a master's and has a better career. Having a more advanced degree doesn't necessarily equate to better career.

Our autistic ds just dropped out of school for the 2nd time.I am assuming he'll never finish a degree. His future will always be limited to low wage unskilled labor jobs bc of his personality and inability to cope.

Our 7th grader, otoh, insists she is not going to college. She has been reading entrepreneur books and has been putting together various business options. She is planning on starting a business within the next yr. She has some great ideas that do not require a degree and if she gets her business going during high school like she plans, we will support her decision.

I took our van to a body shop this week and was talking to the older man who wins the business. He was telling me that he only has 1 employee in his 30s and everyone else is in their 40s or older. He cannot find any younger people to hire. (He also said that with today's technologies and safety features that staying up to date on how to do repairs requires continual education.) He says there is void in the field and that his friends who are electricians and plumbers are facing equal difficulties.  Our current push for a one-size, college-bound,  fits all students' education is going to end up backfiring on our country when people can't hire tradesmen.

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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55 minutes ago, 8FillTheHeart said:

My Dd with a 2 yr degree makes more than a relative with a master's and has a better career. Having a more advanced degree doesn't necessarily equate to better career.

 

Do you mind sharing what 2 yr degree he obtained?  

Thank you

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We do have a 4 year college degree as the default plan. As in we plan and prepare as if that is the plan. However, if any of my kids come up with an alternative plan (that is sustainable) I will support it. 

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28 minutes ago, Ggg said:

 

Do you mind sharing what 2 yr degree he obtained?  

Thank you

She is a COTA (occupational therapy assistant). Her facility is also training her to eventually take on the role of reb director.

 

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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These are the programs available through our local technical college, all except Practical Nurse and Radiology Technician, and  Surgical Technology are open to highschoolers ages 16+ and are very close to free if you enroll while in high school (for most porgrams the fee for high schoolers is just $40) Many of these could be followed up with a 2 or 4 year degree. 

I could see dd doing and enjoying something in a healthy/therapy field, I could also see her getting a degree in business with the plan of owning her own business. The owner of her martial arts dojo owns a couple of dojos and has something close to 400 students, this is his only job. 

I went to a local college fair a couple of years ago and was impressed with the representative of a two year business oriented college. I asked him what he would recommend for someone who wanted to get through school quickly and have good earning potential and he said accounting; that two year accounting graduates could get the same job as four year graduates. I know that particular school has strong relationships with employers locally and very high job placement rates for graduates.image.png.8f58e8c712282f3df51cafdeafd069e7.pngimage.png.124c1da6aa140a1194984707d304b58a.png

 

 

 

Edited by maize

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Look into accounting before you decide on that. We have accountants in the family. My brother got a two year degree and earned his CPA 25 years ago, but the rules have changed since then. I believe you need a four year degree to sit for the CPA exam. Without the CPA, an accounting degree will probably only net a bookkeeping job. This may vary by area, but you should make sure you know.

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1 hour ago, maize said:


I could see dd doing and enjoying something in a healthy/therapy field, I could also see her getting a degree in business with the plan of owning her own business.

 

How about sports therapy or physiotherapy? That would complement her love for martial arts and dance. 

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On 5/17/2019 at 8:46 AM, maize said:

My 15 year old is very bright, academically capable, and doesn't love academics. She loves martial arts and dance and music. She spends as many hours as possible at the dojo every week, likes to compete, and was recently asked to be an assistant teacher (an honor that isn't usually bestowed until a candidate is preparing for black belt, she's a couple of belts away yet). 

She has a natural tendency towards anxiety and I have seen all this physical activity have a significant positive impact on her mental and social health. She is really thriving.

I've always assumed a traditional college path for my kids; my grandparents were from poor working class families and really encouraged their own children to go to college; my parents and aunts and uncles all have at least a bachelor's degree and so do all of my siblings and cousins. But I'm really wondering about it for this kid. Could she make a decent life for herself teaching karate and maybe dance? Maybe a two year degree to complement that? She wants to get married and have kids, and ideally work only part time (given the potential insecurity of not working at all during childrearing years I think it is wise for women to have at least some part time employment). 

I'm just kind of wondering about my own "college is the expected pathway" bias here. She's going into  tenth grade, and I'm working on planning for the next school year. Assuming college may mean a somewhat different emphasis, one that would help her get scholarships etc.; there are other possible paths including the local technical school that has a variety of certification programs and is mostly free for high school students.



I think this is what I'd tell my friend sitting at the table, sipping coffee:

She's 15.  In the next couple of years, as she really hits her stride, gains full independence, and fully embraces becoming her own woman, it will become so clear that she is capable of making these decisions.

As this comes about, you guys will have important conversations and your job is just to ask good questions so she can sort through her own thoughts.
Your other job is to equip her, to the best of your abilities.   I *really* struggled with this - before my oldest daughter was in high school, what I wanted most for her was to be a stay at home mama because *I* found it very fulfilling and a right and good thing. At the same time, she was extremely academic. I prayed over it long and hard and felt firmly impressed that it was my job to equip and hers to decide.  Equip is so broad - a strong worldview, a good work ethic, academically - the expected skills and abilities to go to college if that's her decision.  And, now, after she's graduated from college, is married, and is (currently) staying home with two babies, I feel confident this is the way to go.  I did the parenting thing to the best of my abilities and I helped her "sort through" her thoughts and then the decisions were hers to make and own.

The long story & feel free to ignore, but if it's useful, then great:
Sometimes I feel parents feel pressure to help them make "the" right decision, as though there is only a single path.  She might be a karate instructor for two years, then decide she wants a two year degree and to teach dance.  That switch is good and acceptable.  My own husband planned on a four year degree. He spent his freshman year watching the Clarence Thomas trials and partying and had to leave the University for poor grades.  He went to CC - intended to get a two year drafting degree.  Graduated with his AS and we got married and he transferred to a four year college.  Graduated, got a good job with an outstanding company, but then took a leave absence to go into the Army to pay off student loan debt.  While he was there - got an MS in two areas and MBA. He went right back to his company.  It was this long and windy route and definitely doing things the "hard way" - working and going to school, but I feel like it was FANTASTIC route for us!  Later, when we were told his 9/11 benefits would expire - we found out he was eligible to earn another degree.  As he works in Logistics, he decided a Masters in Supply Chain (ERAU) made sense and he'll finish that this summer, after 20+ years in his current company.  Essentially, we didn't feel locked into a mindset that said there was just "one way."  Instead, there existed this fluidity to made choices as they fit who we were and who we had become as a couple.  

Edited by BlsdMama
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I’ve thought about this a lot and I really feel that some kind of certificate gives her options for life. Having something on paper - whether it’s a college degree, or dental assistant (less than one year of training gives you a 50k salary!) or even a CNA which is a very low totem pole job but something that would provide steady income and health Insurance.

i currently know two women in my immediate acquaintnce who are in an abusive situation with Children and one of them due to having an established career (it’s not amazing but pays bills and provides insurance) is in a much better situation! One of the situations came on very slowly and you never would have known the first few years of their marriage. 

Married or not, everyone needs a marketable skill that they can always fall back on or depend on. And many times in their youth is the only time that it is somewhat easy to come by earning that. 

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4 hours ago, BlsdMama said:

it was my job to equip and hers to decide. 

Love this. ❤️

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My oldest is finishing 8th grade, and planning on a 2-year vo-tech program in 11th and 12th grade. 

I insist on 4 years of high school math and he agrees to that.  I encourage him to do more science than required but I will not make him.  Right now he says he really does not want to do more than high school graduation requirements in anything else.  

Otherwise I really have no idea if this is something that will lead him toward or away from a 4-year degree.  

It’s the only thing he is interested in doing, and he does not like a lot of his school classes enough to want to do an extra 4 years of them.  I don’t see him ever doing a liberal arts degree at this point. 

His top interests for vo-tech are CAD/design and carpentry, and I think either of those seem great for him, and either one might be things where he does want to attend 4-year college, or where he goes to work after high school.

Right now he says he plans to attend 4-year college, but it is what he is expected to say, and I don’t think he does plan it right now, I think he wants to get out in the real world as fast as possible.  I’m not sure but it’s what I think he is thinking right now.  

So I think a combination of high interest in doing vo-tech, marginal interest in English, History, and foreign languages, and questionable interest in continuing on in school for another 4 years after high school, make it a really good idea for him.

He is good with his hands.  I think he is good at math and science, too.  

Edit:  what he says right now is that he wants to be able to have a good job and work his way through school.  But it’s like “school will be on the side since I have to say that.”  But I don’t think he is settled on the school part, but he is drawn to having a real job!

He also just went to a career fair that was focused on going to college and different options with college programs, and then one little part that was a presentation about vo-tech.  

He had Zero Interest in anything except the vo-tech presentation.  

And this has been typical for him.  

Edit:  I also think he will be able to find out more about what he likes and doesn’t like in vo-tech, and this could either mean he gets interested in some kind of college engineering degree, or it could mean he doesn’t like vo-tech and so he wants to attend college, or it could mean it works out great for him.  I have no idea, but I think any of these could be good for him.  Especially when he has little interest or motivation in any other options.

 

Edited by Lecka
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1 hour ago, Lecka said:

Edit:  I also think he will be able to find out more about what he likes and doesn’t like in vo-tech, and this could either mean he gets interested in some kind of college engineering degree, or it could mean he doesn’t like vo-tech and so he wants to attend college, or it could mean it works out great for him.  I have no idea, but I think any of these could be good for him.  Especially when he has little interest or motivation in any other options.

 

You could make a list of engineering programs with co-ops. It breaks up the monotony of academics and most get paid for co-op work as well as get job offers from the companies they did the co-op with. The link describes a few https://www.kiplinger.com/article/college/T012-C000-S002-co-ops-put-college-students-to-work.html

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Thanks, I have never heard of this kind of program!

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Unless the tuition assistance for DE is crucial, or she hates/resists school strongly, I would continue on the most solid path possible - meaning I would not trade high school academics for vo-tech, because they can still decide to do that after graduation. I wanted my kids to have a strong base in what we commonly call the liberal arts before they moved on to . . . anything. Many students actually don't get a super strong grounding in liberal arts in higher education unless they are actually at a liberal arts college. Every person, no matter what job they end up in, can benefit from reading great literature, studying lots of history, and so on. All the more so if she thinks that homeschooling might be one of her potential jobs 😃

I also don't think it's an either/or situation. She can be deeply involved in dance, music, and martial arts while getting a college prep education. And not all college prep educations follow the exact same path - a history class could certainly put some emphasis on the meaning and context of martial arts at different times and in different places. You can nicely correlate some history and literature by reading biographies of important people in music and dance, and then placing them/their movement into a broader context. There's a reason certain art styles become popular at certain times, what broader events, issues, concerns, were driving that? 

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Our daughters sound quite similar. I don't (and never have) posted much here, but my daughter has been involved in circus arts since she was just barely 7. She turns 15 soon, and it's not changing. (SWB even included some things I talked about over the years in her "Rethinking School" book.) I've incorporated aspects of this passion at nearly every learning stage.

She's finishing up 9th grade now, and I recently calculated just the hours she spent this past year TAing other classes--so not her training or performing--and it's worth more than an entire class load of work (180+ hours). 

She gets paid now when she performs with her local troupe (though not at their rates yet!), and she's trained so much locally and elsewhere every summer. I pay for conditioning coaches, PT, just had some evals done by sports doc to make sure she's ready to push harder because she has some big applications coming up this fall.

It's not going away, and she's finally decided that she wants to apply to circus school AFTER taking a gap year. So, she graduates high school, works and teaches for a year (and possibly does community college), before applying to schools. Now, she can get a college degree (and even a PhD!) in circus arts but she has to go outside of the US. There are some excellent schools in the US but they are not traditional degree programs. She makes some really excellent arguments to support her case, not the least of which is it makes sense to do this when her body is younger. She also knows 3 Physical Therapists (PhD level) who went back after their circus careers.

She does have the advantage of already working with the troupe that she would work with during her gap year too (and they'd be thrilled if she just stuck around after that too!). I think she can earn a living wage doing circus arts for sure.

Her academic interest is either paleoanthropology or PT, both of which require PhDs. That's a lot of years of school without any certainty in today's academic climate. 

Anyway, I keep her on an academically rigorous path with some changes--mostly to let us learn things we want to learn rather than we feel like we have to. 

Edited by deerforest
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This doesn't exactly address your question, but I wanted to share our experience, because I had this kid.

Quote

My 15 year old is very bright, academically capable, and doesn't love academics. She loves martial arts .... She spends as many hours as possible at the dojo every week, likes to compete, and was recently asked to be an assistant teacher

At 15, my DS was dead certain he wasn't going to attend college and was heading for a martial arts career. The years from 15 to 18 are years of tremendous growth and development; we were surprised by the magnitude of changes. DS discovered a passion for academics, is now half way to his BS and has firm plans for a PhD.

Make sure all doors remain open; your kid may surprise you. I would offer a solid college prep high school education, irrespective of the 15 y/o's current plans. In some sense that is even more important if the kid will not have an opportunity to continue her academic work at college.

Edited by regentrude
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1 hour ago, regentrude said:

This doesn't exactly address your question, but I wanted to share our experience, because I had this kid.

At 15, my DS was dead certain he wasn't going to attend college and was heading for a martial arts career. The years from 15 to 18 are years of tremendous growth and development; we were surprised by the magnitude of changes. DS discovered a passion for academics, is now half way to his BS and has firm plans for a PhD.

Make sure all doors remain open; your kid may surprise you. I would offer a solid college prep high school education, irrespective of the 15 y/o's current plans. In some sense that is even more important if the kid will not have an opportunity to continue her academic work at college.



Quoting because it needs to be said twice. ❤️ 

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Yes, push appropriately and leave the doors open.

One of mine had a lot of misgivings about college and struggled with figuring out what he wanted to do. He was a high achiever but really wasn't into thinking about life after high school. We opted for community college against all of the naysayers, and he found his passion after exploring a field that we looked into late in his senior year of high school. He was the top graduate in his major from that college and is excelling at a top-20 university in his major. He'll graduate next May.

My other one knew what she wanted her junior year of high school, but had a really difficult senior year and wasn't sure either about the whole college thing. Her freshman year also had a lot of upheaval outside of school, and I was worried. But she did well, and her sophomore year went much better.  She's going to the same four-year in the fall into a unique program that fits her interests.

I've found that they have to do some of the figuring out themselves, and that getting older does indeed help. I did push them to think positively and discussed their interests and strengths. So college wasn't a blind push. We had ideas about what they might pursue before they went though. Over time they've refined and grown into that.  

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