I woke up this morning from a dream where I was frantically trying to get Rene into this college art class. …
Deep sigh …
Must be all the high-school/jr-high-school counseling I’ve been doing lately.
So why have I been playing high-school/jr-high-school counselor?
Well, because that’s just what moms do now. (You moms of juniors and seniors know what I’m talking about.)
Here’s what’s been on the agenda this spring:
- Attending “welcome night” in the grade school MPR to select Nate’s electives for junior high next year.
- Attending “open house” at the junior high for even more information and to figure out Nate’s electives. (Does he need a foreign language? What happens to when these trimester ones end? Will any of these put him behind in high school?).
- Selecting high school electives for Rene next year. (Why can’t she get an art class? Does that mean she can’t take an AP art? Do all colleges require 2 years of foreign language? Does Health count as an elective? What if she plays sports?)
- Overriding certain classes that Rene really wanted but didn’t get into. (Still trying to figure out the paperwork on this one.)
- Sending Ricky’s transcripts to the schools he applied to, along with SAT scores and such.
- Researching scholarship opportunities.
The thing that’s striking me through this entire spring is how much parents really need to be involved as de facto high school counselors. I mean, when we were all in high school, we had actual high school counselors. Our counselors met with us every semester, made sure we were taking the right courses, made sure we were passing them, helped us know what we needed for college, helped us know when to apply to colleges, found us scholarships if we needed them, sent our transcripts in for us, helped us apply to honors societies, etc. Our parents didn’t need to know all this stuff.
But now there are no counselors — they’ve all been laid off. Or a few remain, but there are like 2 counselors per 3,200 kids. So obviously they can’t meet with all the kids individually, and make sure they’re taking the right courses, or help find scholarships, or help kids find colleges. Now the parents are basically responsible for this.
Yep, that’s right. Cookie-baking moms like me are now scouring school web sites, trying to decipher requirements lists, looking at electives, taking best guesses. I go to the school events where they present to a large auditorium of parents as much information as they can. It’s really overwhelming. And really, I keep thinking I’m a college graduate and I find this overwhelming, so what about all the parents who aren’t even high school grads? How do they help their kids get into college? I worry it’s going to create a series of successive generations who just shrug and give up –both the kids and the parents, I mean — because there’s no one to guide them. I worry that it’s making college seem more and more elitist, which is not the original intent of public colleges. How many kids are slipping through the cracks these days?
And if college is not becoming elitist because it requires parents to get them there, it is certainly becoming elitist because of cost. As schools receive less funding each year, tuition goes up. And now a public college education costs as much as a small home. Our California schools are accepting fewer kids each year because of slashed funding, which is why our UC schools were turning down kids with higher-than-4.0 GPAs and raising rates on those they did accept. And our high schools are so short of funding that our district just put a limit on the number of classes kids can take, so they can’t take those AP classes or “extra” classes to get ahead, making them less competitive, overall, to get into college. … gah …
The whole education system seems really wacky right now. I can’t even picture what it’s going to look like in ten years.