Megan talks about making plans for her oldest daughter’s the transition to college.
What did you want to be when you grew up? When I was in third grade I wanted to be the first woman President of the United States. For a time, I remember I even wanted to be in the CIA. The thrill of spies and espionage seemed so intriguing. When I was in high school I decided I wanted to be a teacher. I went to college, and became a special education teacher.
Choosing a career path is a major life decision.
It is fun to pretend all of the various careers we might someday chose but when you are in the last couple years of high school, you start thinking about your life and your future job prospects. This year, it’s my oldest daughter’s turn. She will be a junior in high school and it’s the big decision-making year. The one all the school guidance counselors tell you about at freshman orientation. The year you thought you had plenty of time to think about, later.
Now, it’s time to get serious.
When my daughter started high school, I naively thought she had more than enough time to think about careers and major life choices. Now the to do list looming on our calendar seems like an impossible challenge we need to conquer. When I say we, I mean my daughter and me. She will make her own decisions but I am here to guide and support her through these important milestones.
Who decides what they want to do when they’re only fourteen or fifteen? Her high school wanted her to decide her future before she even started her first day of freshman year. We were given a sheet to fill out that included choices regarding trade schools, colleges and other various career paths.
Being both autistic, my daughter and I felt anxious that we were expected to make such major life decisions so quickly. Is that only an autistic feeling? No, I’m sure everyone worries about making the “big” choices that will impact your future.
My daughter chose the path to college.
Her curriculum has been focused on college prep and now that she’s a junior, she is interested in studying and becoming a photo journalist. I was elated when she expressed a career path for herself.
To help her explore her talents and interests early on in high school, I encouraged her to take yearbook as a class during her sophomore year. I knew she loved to write, so yearbook seemed like a good fit. She loved the class! She enjoyed writing captions, but she found an excitement and love for photography. She found she had a passion for taking pictures.
She truly has a gift for writing and photography. Choosing photo journalism gives her a direction and purpose. Now comes the tedious part of searching for and finding the right higher education establishment. Since we are just beginning this journey, I will let you know at a later date more about this process.
My point in sharing this with you is to really listen to your child when the high school years come creeping upon you. Dial into their passions and interests and guide them into classes and activities that will help them explore them further. Pay attention to the things that they excel in, whether it be math or art and start searching for interesting career paths they might be able to take.
If you know your child will need disability services, start keeping a list of colleges that provide them. Spend time beginning their freshman year visiting college websites. Start talking about how far away your child and you feel comfortable attending college. This is what my daughter and I have been doing and we’ve discovered that it is a long, but extremely valuable, process.
Take it in small doses. Do not try to overwhelm yourselves with everything in one day. It took your child almost two decades to get here. Take your time and try to enjoy the ride.
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