I attended an “empowering parents” workshop at West High recently, where the topic centered on how to guide our children toward college.
During this nearly two-hour session, what struck a chord with me were a few facts: 70 percent of the seniors who graduate high school will not be eligible to enter a four-year college because they have not fulfilled their A through G course requirements; public community colleges are not allowed to deny anyone admittance; there are a minimum of 500 students for one counselor at West High; and every 26 seconds a child drops out of high school.
The next day, I contacted my son’s guidance counselor and made an appointment. I needed to know if my son was on track.
My son, the guidance counselor and I met. The counselor asked my son three questions: What were my son’s goals for himself; what did he see himself doing as a career; and does his mom still tell him when to pick up his clothes, clean his room and take out the garbage?
The answer to that last question, said the counselor, is the determining factor in a transition from boy to young man to adult male. A boy has to have his mother to tell him what to do; a young man is able to recognize what must be done and then does it without his mother telling him what to do. A man takes care of himself, pays his own way and is able to provide for his family.
(What a valuable resource are the men and women who devote themselves to teaching and guiding our children’s day-to-day educational paths.)
The counselor walked us through my son’s transcript, explained to us the courses that make up the A through G requirements, and enlightened us both as to what was next in his final two years of high school. He is on track.
Attending the workshop and meeting with the counselor crystallized the fact that, as parents, we have work to do to prepare our children to transition to adulthood. College is not simply about grades. Grades will get our children into college, yet the ability to stay and push through is about the transition.
Are our children able to organize their time in a manner that allows them to study, to test, to rest and to enjoy academia to allow them to complete all course requirements by themselves? Are they self-motivated? We must prepare our children by expecting that they can do their own laundry, cut the grass, empty the garbage, clean their rooms and get good grades — without nagging them to do so.
If they cannot do that yet, we have work to do. The counselor’s phrase for my son, and many other teenagers, is that they have a tendency to “linger on task.” What a great way to describe the teenager who is slow and doesn’t appear to care about anything.
The one thing I know is that if we don’t invest in our children’s transitions, we will invest later. I will invest now.
• Yolande Barial is a Tracy resident and mom.