When is a good time to start preparing children for their future? In my high school, students started to receive SAT Prep and were encouraged to start thinking about possible college institutions, majors and career choices in the tenth grade. From then on, there was a large focus on preparing students for the future and the changes they must learn to adapt to. In recent times, middle schools across the country are beginning to require college and career preparation as early as sixth thru eighth grade. Are students in middle school too young to be forced to think that far ahead into the future?
In an article written by Nora Fleming in Education Week titled "Middle Schoolers Getting Prepped for College," Nora talks about the benefits of having students construct their ideal college and career paths early on. Schools across the nation are enacting programs that are forcing students to think about their future vision. Mississippi's state education department enforced a program in middle schools called Pathways to Success, which "has students select a career and then map out the path they would need to take in high school and college to enable them to work in that field, an effort to encourage students to set higher goals for the future." From this perspective, educators feel strongly about the earlier the better approach. They feel it's important to instill important skills and work habits to get students ready for important decisions they are going to have to make, as well as encourage students to strive for ambitious future goals instead of settling for an easy way out.
However, I need to question whether middle school is too young to have children decide on their future. First of all, most middle schoolers are immature and still figuring out their personal identity, and therefore, don't always have the life experience to decide what their passions in life are. Additionally, most students have several career ambitions throughout their youth (many unrealistic and rarely attainable) that they are attracted to for the wrong reasons, such as fame and fortune before deciding upon their true calling in life. In middle school, I wanted to be a doctor, lawyer and actress, and I wound up majoring in Communication Studies, which I am truly passionate about. Lastly, many high school students are overwhelmed by the pressure they receive in high school over the SAT's, searching for the perfect college, selecting a major and deciding on a career path. It needs to be considered that middle school students might become extremely overwhelmed by the idea of having to think about their future at such a young and naïve age.