Five Simple Things to Get Kids To Think the C-word (College)
By Dr. Uma G. Gupat
March 13, 2009
Check out these five simple things to get kids to think the c-word (college).
In 2005, studies showed that while only six percent of non-Hispanic students were likely to drop out of high school, that number was nearly 23% for Hispanic students. According to the ERIC Digest, “That third generation Latino youth perform not significantly better than their second generation Latino peers is very disconcerting. Since they have U.S. born parents, a much larger share of their parents have finished high school and accordingly have higher incomes. Yet these parental advantages do not seem to result in significantly better school performance. Today’s Latino students, regardless of how long their ancestors have been in the U.S., are on average markedly less likely to graduate high school on time in comparison to white students.”
While some of these statistics may be disheartening, there is plenty of heartening and positive news. The best news is that these trends can be reversed. Every person that a child comes in contact with has an opportunity to influence the thinking of the child and therein is the magic and the possibility. According to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, students in the U.S. have higher educational aspirations than ever before. 88% of American 8th graders expect to go to college, and these statistics cut across ethnic and racial lines. You don’t want your child to be in the small percentage that is not aspiring to go to college! Parents and students often wait till high school to think about college. However, the conversations about college should start at the beginning of middle school. This article outlines five simple and no-cost things that parents and friends can do to help kids start thinking about college. In particular, as the efforts to increase college-going Hispanics continues to remain a challenge, it becomes more important for children to be engaged in college discussions early on.
Here are a few simple things that parents, family and friends, teachers, counselors, and mentors can do to ensure that a kid ends up in a dorm room at a good college:
1. Start young, start early: Most parents start thinking or talking about college when their kids are in high school. While this may be the right time to discuss career interests and kind of college that your child would like to attend, it is way too late to impress upon a child the importance of attending college. The right time to start this conversation is believe it or not, in fourth or fifth grade and continues this conversation throughout till they graduate from high school. There are many benefits to this approach. First, it clearly sets the level of expectations. “We expect you to go to college. Period.” When the conversation about going to college starts when they are young, they don’t protest. A fourth grader is less likely to argue than an eleventh grader! Second, it is a wonderful opportunity to boost your child’s self-esteem. Tell them that they are smart enough to go to college and do well in any field they pursue. Encourage them to participate in extra curricular activities and engage in leadership roles. Tell them you have confidence in their success (even if you have doubts in their abilities, tell them you know they will succeed). Third, it gives you a wonderful opportunity to learn about their interests in what they want to do “when they grow up.” What you should not tell them is that it is okay not to go to college, that college is not for everyone, or give them examples of people who succeeded even without going to college (even if you happen to be one of them!)mentors to your kids and request them to talk to your children about the importance of college wherever and whenever an opportunity arises. This may be at picnics, family get togethers’, on a movie night, or other such opportunities. Lecturing kids doesn’t work. Instead, make this a part of an unsuspecting conversation. Tell them success stories about people who graduate from college in spite of many obstacles and hardships. Repeatedly send the message – You too can do it!
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