Open Your Child’s eyes to His Future

By Donna & Brian Norris

“And if a person gains more knowledge…he will have so much the advantage…” D&C 130:19

Summary: There are too few jobs for children that do not attend college or a vocational school.  Continuing education after high school should be a goal for ALL children. We should ALL encourage our children to go to college and make it an expectation rather than a question.  Discuss this with them at an early age so that when they are in the first grade, they already know that all of this schooling will be to prepare them for college. Expose children early on to varied experiences to help them broaden their view of occupations.  

OK, let’s face the facts… there are just too few jobs for students who don’t go to college or attend a vocational school. College has become a necessity to have a future with viable options. Too many kids today are waking up the morning after high school graduation and wonder, “what should I do now?”

In this article, we discuss ways to try to get your child excited and pointed towards college at an early age. Children even as young as three or four years old start forming their opinions of the world around them. So why not start talking about college with them?  Most young children become fascinated with firemen, doctors or nurses, equipment operators, teachers and construction workers because they see these individuals working their occupations and it looks exciting.  These workers are making a lot of noise as they are operating their equipment, driving fast with sirens and using construction tools to build buildings.  This is the time to start introducing the idea that these people worked hard to get to do these jobs.  They went to college and formal training after high school.  Ask your child “would you like to do what they are doing?” when the child answers yes, tell the child that “these people went to college to get these jobs.  Let the child know that they can do these jobs if they go to college.  Make that connection early on so the idea of going to college becomes an expectation and goal throughout their school years rather than a question after high school.  You can work this process everywhere you go.  The dentist, theater, post office, grocery store, airport, hairdresser… literally everywhere you go.

This will give children the greatest exposure and broaden their interests for possible occupations. Family nights, vacations and day trips are also great opportunities to help instill goals and expectations of college for your children.  Plan trips to places that children can perform hands on experiments like:museums, dams, fish hatcheries, art galleries, forestry centers, aquariums, marine biology centers, factories etc.  Some local FREE locations to help inspire your children are:  Oregon Hatfield Center, Bonneville Dam, colleges and universities, libraries, Fort Clatsop, fish hatcheries, free rehearsals at local theaters or colleges, city, county or state run summer outreach programs.  Other free ideas include asking members in your ward to talk to your children about what they do.  Ask your youth leaders to have a fireside with members from diverse occupations to speak and tell how they decided on their careers.  This is just a partial list.  Please consult your local area newspapers, web sites and schools for a complete list near you.

The more exposure children can get to a university, the less foreign it will seem to them and the easier it will be for them to accept it. The first time a child visits a college they may be overwhelmed.  It is so much bigger than their elementary or high school they may feel like they can never fit in or they may worry that they will get lost.  On several occasions during a free weekend, we have taken our children to the Oregon State University campus for a tour. We showed them the different buildings and what types of courses are taught in those buildings (Languages, engineering, chemistry, business, medicine, etc.). They were amazed at how big the library was.  A favorite for our children was the school of veterinary science because the children could pet animals and tour the barns and surgical hospitals for animals.   Visits such as these make the idea of going to college more familiar to them and allows them to gradually become more comfortable with the idea of going to college.

Public domain images (CC0)
Public domain images (CC0)

Another great way to introduce children to colleges or universities is to have them attend summer camps or sports events held on campuses.  Our children attended swim camps at Linfield College and Stanford University as well as other activities and camps held on college campuses.  This helped them get a taste for college life in dorms, eat at campus cafeterias and walk from one building to other buildings on campus.  Our children always came home excited and motivated to attend more classes or activities. If you are the parent of a high school sophomore or junior, now is the time to take action. Start having discussions about schools that your child is interested in attending.  Sit down with them and look up the admission’s criteria to see if their selections are realistic with their goals as well as a match with their current scholastic achievements.  Discuss how your child meets or does not meet this criteria. Check into activities, intramural sports, church institutes and clubs that your child can participate in so they have “instant friends”.  Come up with a list of at least 3 colleges. One school should be a “reach” school…a school that your child would love to attend but does not feel confident about getting in to. One school should be a “fall back” school… sometimes a local junior college can be used for the freshman and sophomore year if your applications to other schools don’t work or you are short on cash. Remind your child that they can ALWAYS transfer to a bigger or better school later.  The bottom line is that your sophomore or junior needs to take the required entrance exams and prepare for that transition to college now. Listed below are a few common occupations with their education requirements.  More information can be found at careeronestop

2-Year College 4-Year College Master’s Degree Doctoral Degree More?
Construction Optional Optional
Plumber Usually Optional
Electrician Usually Optional
Postal Worker Usually Optional
Fireman Required Usually Optional
Police Required Usually Optional
Accountant Required Often Optional
Sales Usually Often Optional
Banker Required Often
Theatrics Required Optional
Secretary Usually Optional
Engineer Required Usually Optional
Computer Required Usually Optional
Biologist Required Usually Often (PhD)
Pilot Required Optional
Business Manager Required Usually
Librarian Required Usually
Teacher Required Usually
School Principal Required Required Optional
Dental Hygienist Required Optional
Weather Forecaster Required Usually Usually
Astronomer Required Required Usually
College Professor Required Often PhD
Lawyer Required Optional JD Optional
Medical Doctor Required Optional DMD 3 years or more
Veterinarian Required Optional DVM 1 year or more

 

Photos source: Public domain

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