So, Derek's a Sophomore this year, and that means...the beginning of Serious Life Planning. Well, that may be a teensy bit dramatic, but at the very least, at this point in your High School campaign you're encouraged to start considering such weighty issues as "Where Do I Want to Attend College?" and of course "What Can I Imagine Doing With My Life?"
Now, I can't speak for anyone else...but here in Casa WestEnders, asking the almost-16-year-old boy to contemplate anything more profound than, say, what he'd like for breakfast is a fairly pointless endeavor. Don't get me wrong--he has a "Dream Job" in mind, all right....but exactly how he's going to travel from Point A (Chapel Hill High School) to Point B (ESPN anchor or, if that proves unrealistic, Sports Journalist) remains a complete mystery.
Husband and I have attempted to engage him on these topics periodically--for example, sharing our own experiences related to narrowing down the vast pool of available colleges and universities out there. We'll pose hypothetical questions such as "Would you prefer a large or small school? Is an urban or rural setting more appealing to you?" (Then of course, there's the unspoken yet ever-so-important subtext: "Where can I get admitted?" and "How much are my parents willing to shell out for my 4 years of pursuing higher education?" Ha!)
While Derek does seem to be listening when his parents reminisce--I mean "impart valuable information" on the subject--when directly queried as to his own ideas regarding college or professions he kind of...shrugs helplessly....and says "Um...I don't know!" with just the barest detectable hint of burgeoning panic in his voice. But wait! Have no fear...it's the Guidance Department to the rescue of clueless young men and women everywhere! First, though, the 10th-graders had to complete the ACT Plan Test--as far as I can understand it, a "warm-up version" for the purposes of practice, pinpointing strengths and weaknesses...and whatnot.
As relayed to me by Derek, you do some initial questionnaire-type-stuff, complete the exam, get your scores back, and use all of the data to help prepare for the actual ACT next year, and also to identify areas of potential interest for study in the future. So, he brought all of this home to show me, and all the numbers looked fine--he's theoretically on-track for success at the college level of learning, blah blah blah. What was more intriguing, though, was his highlighted "Career Area List" which included such scintillating choices as Engineering, Natural Science (e.g. Physicist, Statistician), Medical Technologies (e.g. Pharmacist, Optician), Medical Treatment, Social Science (e.g. Economist, Sociologist), and Applied Visual Arts (e.g. Photographer, Interior Designer).
Hmmm....I'll admit that some of these sound vaguely plausible for my son...and others are just Way. The. Heck. Off-Base. But you know, it's a High School fill-in-the-bubbles kind of survey, so take it with a big old grain of salt and all that. However, Derek actually had the last laugh on this one. He and his friends were reportedly "goofing around" on the computers after they got their results, and Derek stumbled onto what he enthusiastically proclaimed to be "The Perfect Career"! I waited in breathless anticipation for him to enlighten me (or whatever) and I was not to be disappointed, as he triumphantly declared, "Marine Architect"! He paused for just exactly the right amount of suspenseful delay, then added, "Because really, who WOULDN'T want to....BUILD HOUSES FOR FISH?!"
Oh. Good. Grief. Okay, that's it, I'm washing my hands of him and his ridiculous...ness. Yeah, good luck with that, you poor, poor Guidance Counselor. And I'll be ready for your call...sigh....