When your kid becomes a junior in high school, it starts. From well-meaning friends, relatives, co-workers and acquaintances. “Oh, he must be thinking about college!” “Where does he want to go?” “Are you looking at/visiting schools?”
It has happened to me. I politely answer giving fairly generic responses, in reality though, the answers are “No”, “I don’t know” and “no”, we are not.” In reality, I am working hard and stressing every day to try to get him to raise his GPA enough to even be considered by colleges.
The thing is, not every kid goes to college. Not every kid is cut out for college and not every kid wants to go to college. But, in today’s society, it is just expected. Frankly, I feel like a failure as a mother if he doesn’t, and that is something I need to get over. But, it is not easy.
I’ll admit it, I am jealous of other parents who are going on college visits, whose kids are excited about moving on to the next phase. Again, something I have to get over. You know why? Because my son is a great kid. He is full of life, smart, practical, funny as hell and someone I genuinely enjoy hanging out with everyday.
I don’t know what he will end up doing. Believe me, I worry about it enough everyday for the both of us. I lie awake at night wondering if I should have done something different in grade school, middle school, high school. He may very well go to college. He also has talked about being a firefighter or a medic. Recently, we had an emergency with his dog. The dog had put her paws through a window, and she was bleeding pretty bad. Of all of us, he was the best by far in that situation. He was fantastic – calm, cool and collected and knew exactly the right things to do.
So, how bad would it be if he didn’t go to college and became a firefighter and a medic or something else? Those are critical jobs that add value to society. The same society that is making assumptions about what he should be doing as a junior in high school.
I have learned a lot through this process, most notably that it is not really fair for us to expect 16-year-olds who aren’t set on college to know what they want to do for the rest of their lives. If a kid doesn’t have his act together by the time he is 16, he is really at a disadvantage. And 16 is really young.
Bottom line is whatever happens, happens. I love him more than anything and know that he is a good person at his core and that is really what matters. So, next time you are talking to someone who has a junior in high school, ask, “What is he thinking about doing after high school?’ instead of “where is he thinking of going to college?” because not everyone automatically does.