Posted in Career Planning, Common Sense College Planning, High School, HS4CC

I (don’t) Have a Dream (job)

passion1

don’t remember being commanded in high school (late 1980’s)to find my “dream job.”  I remember having a few subjects I really liked: Home Economics (cooking) and Biology (genetics).  However, after many years of taking aptitude and ability test, my guidance counselors pushed me into cooking over biology (they were right).  Still, no one asked me if cooking was my “dream.”  In fact, if you ask me today about my dream or passion, my career is only a small piece of the picture.  In fact, as a middle-aged adult, my career aspirations are merely tools to support and facilitate my real dreams.

Today, our young teens are blasted with what I call “dream propaganda” from a very young age.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to be a dream crusher.  If your teen has a dream job goal, research suggests they’ll have high job satisfaction if they land their dream job.

Researchers have found that workers who feel a higher calling to their jobs are among the most content. Take zookeepers, for example. Though more than eight in 10 zookeepers have college degrees, their average annual income is less than $25,000. The typical job description involves scrubbing enclosures, scooping waste and spending time in the elements. There’s little room for advancement and zookeepers tend not to be held in high regard, says Stuart Bunderson, Ph.D., a professor of organizational behavior at the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis (Administrative Science Quarterly, 2009).

Modern dream propaganda assumes:

  • There is such a thing as a dream job.
  • You must identify it in the first 25% of your life if you are to achieve it on time.
  • You must begin a dedicated and formal pursuit of it immediately.
  • It will be built on a 4-year degree.
  • It will provide a good living for you and your family.
  • You will live happily ever after.  The end.

What if your teen ended up working at an average company, earning an average living, with average job satisfaction?  What if your daughter ended up as a homeschooling mother instead of an employee?  <gasp>  Would that be terrible?  Are our children homeschooling failures if they aren’t chasing a dream job?

This post is meant to prompt you to consider your role as your teen’s guidance counselor.  We, as homeschooling parents, have the luxury of not only parenting our teens through this very important transitionary time in life, but we get to help them navigate the educational landscape too.

miners

It’s easy to get lost in the propaganda of our time, and if you don’t think you’re influenced by it, consider the other extreme:  coal miners of the 1700’s.  Clearly, no one believes that this type of work was anyone’s dream job!  It was dangerous, dirty, hot, rough, and physically hard!  Still, I don’t believe that the lives of the men in this photo were empty.  I don’t believe that they never felt the satisfaction of a job well done, or didn’t appreciate the opportunity to provide for their families. I don’t believe that they didn’t have fun with their co-workers, telling jokes and stories.  What did career guidance look like in the 1700’s? Clearly, in 2021, we want more for our teens than working in a dangerous coal mine.  But, are we taking it to the opposite extreme by insisting that they chase a dream at the expense of all else?  At the expense of common sense?  Are we asking them to go deeply into debt to finance the pursuit of a dream?  (Even though we know 50% of those who start college won’t finish).

Modern dream propaganda promotes to our teens a very scary notion:  that a dream is out there, and it’s up to them to “find” it immediately.  If they don’t, then there is something wrong with them!  If we take a moment to think about the modern “dream job” message before we support it, the message is very damaging.  The message tells our children that “everyone else” has this great personal insight revealed to them by the time they are in high school, and that if you’re late gaining this insight, you’re doomed to a life of poverty and unfulfilling work!  Wow.  Talk about pressure.

passion3

I’ve been guilty of applying that pressure to my teens, most notably with my oldest (the guinea pig) when we started career exploration in middle school.  I handed my son a book called College Majors, which explored majors in Anthropology, Biotechnology, Dermatology, Human Resources, etc.  Who wants to guess how many 8th graders know what any of those words mean?  It’s about zero.  Yet, onward.

In an effort to make an efficient and resourceful high school plan (one that injects college credit) it’s easy to become too narrow too soon.  For those rare teens with an early and clear passion, having a resourceful parent will make all the difference in the world.  But for teens developing at a normal rate of emotional and cognitive (mind) development, it would be unusual to have such a strong sense of identity and purpose at an early age – especially at the exclusion of everything else.

When I look back on a conversation I had with my Home Economics teacher, a special mentor to me, I remember telling her that I wanted to work on a cruise ship.  Later, after actually working as a chef, I knew that working on a cruise ship would be a terrible job for me!  The job was in conflict with my dream– my imagination of what that job might be life.

It’s easy to have a dream job when its crafted in our imagination.

buffet

As an adult, we have a better understanding of the world than our teens.  When we consider a decision, we base it on our life’s experiences and our understanding of the world.  Our teens aren’t broken, they just don’t have the life experience we do!  A teen can’t know what it really means to work on a cruise ship from inside the profession (sleeping in a public bunk, working 12 hours on/off, leaving family and friends for months at a time, being one of a thousand insignificant employees, working in very hot- or very cold kitchens, having large stock pots of boiling soup slide off the stove during a storm, etc.) but a teen can imagine it from books, tv, or being a guest (beautiful and elaborate food buffets decorated with fruit and vegetable platters displayed perfectly, ice carvings, and the most elegant and delicious food imaginable).  See the gap?  When we look at dream jobs, they are just that:  dreams.  We are looking from the outside, and the reality can be very different from what we imagine.

If you ask adults about their dream job, you’ll notice something very interesting.  You’ll get answers like this:

having autonomy over my schedule.”

“helping people accomplish their goals.”

watching the joy in my patient’s eyes.”

having enough time off to take vacations with my family.”

What did you notice?  These dreams are all based on a quality of life and contribution to society!  They aren’t about tasks or being an employee.  If I look at those answers through the lens of my trade (culinary arts), I could identify specific jobs where someone with my training could pursue their dream.  Want autonomy?  Write cookbooks.  Helping people accomplish their goal?  Teach culinary arts.  Watch joy in your patient’s eyes? Meals on Wheels.  Having time off?  Corporate dining.   As you can see, nearly any occupation can be made into a dream job, but it’s unlikely that your teen will have the insight and life experience to pull that together as a very young person.

You are your teen’s best guidance counselor!

As your teen’s guidance counselor, you may want to consider helping them see the converse side of modern propaganda:

  • There may not be such a thing as a dream job. But we all have dreams.
  • You may not be able to understand your dreams and gifts until you’ve had more life experiences.
  • Dreams and passions can be practiced through volunteer work, ministries, activities, clubs, sports, hobbies, and other informal activities right now!  They can also exist alongside our careers- with our families, not just at work.
  • One’s dreams and passions will likely change, evolve, and morph over time as we experience various stages of life (marriage, parenthood, retirement) and the unexpected events of adulthood (death of a loved one, a spouse’s deployment)
  • Pursuing a 4-year degree may be separate and apart from a dream job!
  • Advising your teen to secure a good living means your grandchildren will have food on the table and a roof over their head…it may not include a fancy sports car.
  • Life is short, live it well.
Posted in Career Planning, College Majors, Common Sense College Planning, High School, HS4CC, Tuition

Educational Value

“Pursuing high-quality postsecondary education is one of the most important investments a student can make, and is the surest path to the middle class in our country.” The U.S. Department of Education says so, therefore, it must be true. We think it’s true. Well, it’s probably true, right? What’s the alternative? NOT going to college? Too risky. But what if that statement makes assumptions about students that aren’t true?

Continue reading “Educational Value”
Posted in Career Planning, Curriculum, HS4CC

High School Medical Classes

If your teen is considering a career in a health or medical field, I have some interesting electives you can add to your high school curriculum to give them a head start.

These aren’t worth college credit (you’ll award high school credit), but some, like those offered through the American Red Cross, result in certification or licensure! Since many health occupations look for volunteer or work experience, this is a great way to receive training as a first step toward a career.

Continue reading “High School Medical Classes”

Posted in Career Planning, College Majors, High School

Unlimited Time, Talent, and Resources

The motivational/inspirational quote always goes something like this:

“What would you do if you had unlimited time, talent, or resources?  Do that!” 

If you love that quote, you’re not alone. But you might not appreciate this post very much, and I want to talk to you about how time, talent, and resources fit into the homeschooling for college credit journey. Continue reading “Unlimited Time, Talent, and Resources”

Posted in Career Planning, Curriculum, HS4CC

Question: Bachelor’s in Liberal Arts for a pre-nursing student?

Q: As a homeschool parent of an 8th-grade son who wants to be a nurse, should I let him get a degree in liberal arts now through testing out and then do the nursing degree after high school?

A:  I’d continue Homeschooling for College Credit with less degree planning and more diploma planning. High school really is the time to dream big and explore, there’s no reason your son can’t become a nurse, but rushing into a degree will ultimately undermine his success because it requires you to jump through hoops that will only get him closer to a degree instead of his REAL goal. That’s my sincere opinion, of course, you should do what you think is best.

Without knowing your state, I’ll just operate under the assumption that you have full curricular control. If that’s true, I’d suggest a Language Arts at grade level (all college majors and career occupations require a grasp of the English language in some regard), a math at grade level (no need to go higher than Algebra 2 if he’s struggling- it’s better to have EXCELLENT algebra mastery, even if that means taking Algebra 1 and 2 over 4 years instead of 2), and a good amount of science. Science can be at high school or college level, since the difference is negligible. Biology, chemistry, and physical science are the typical high school subjects, but your son might enjoy different sequence, something like biology, anatomy and physiology, microbiology, and genetics. Those would absolutely be better aligned to his current interests!

Those 3 will keep him on track with academic progress, and if there are special interests, add those in, too. If your city offers dual enrollment options, he can kill two birds with one stone, but also don’t disregard the adult education catalog. When I was a teen, some of my favorite classes were through the community college studying chocolate, cake decorating, and others – they were non-credit (didn’t count toward my degree) but monumentally significant in my decision to pursue culinary school. In your son’s case, depending on his age, they may offer health occupation options like a nursing assistant or similar. Dipping his toe into those topics and perhaps even some volunteer work at a hospital (or job shadow) will allow him to decide if he’s up for the hard work of nursing school. I like the courses he’s considering, keep in mind those are allied health courses, so perfect for exploration, not perfect for degree completion. If he does one or two and that seals the deal- he wants to be a nurse, both of you can meet with the nursing advisor or attend an info session to find out which courses they’d like him to do in high school.

It’s true that nursing is competitive, but so what. It’s not “Harvard-competitive” where fewer than 10% who want it get in, it’s more like 50% competitive- he can do it if he’s dedicated. And there’s really no point in adding a bachelor’s degree in front of someone at his age. One degree will do. Give him a good high school education and remove barriers to things that get in the way of his good high school education. You can find classes, pay the bills, write the transcript, etc. All of those allow him the pleasure of thinking about his future. You can even inject CLEP exams, but I’d strongly suggest these not be in the sciences because that’s usually not acceptable in anything healthcare-related. Keep them in the electives (literature, computers, business, etc) or basic core subjects (math, history, psychology, etc.)

Finally, if you haven’t already, be sure to thoroughly investigate the laws of your state and be sure you’re in full compliance. I strongly suggest joining HSLDA if you’re in a state that is tricky. Homeschooling is legal in all 50 states, so you want to be sure his high school graduation requirements are met and his diploma is considered official. That task falls on the parents.