Professors shouldn’t squash students’ dreams, writes Isaac Sweeney, citing a would-be art teacher who was told she’d never find a job. “Maybe professors can tell students that their goals will be hard to achieve, but they shouldn’t squash the goals completely.”
Several commenters disagreed, saying their students’ career plans are unrealistic.
Misanthroopic789, who teaches statistics at a community college, said 75 percent of students plan to go to graduate school, usually in a medical field.
However I know that nearly half of them will either give up or fail out before the end of the semester. I bite my tongue and tell them how wonderful their goals are, but I really worry that many have set themselves up for failure. More realistic goals NOW would result in finished programs as opposed to debt without degrees.
Margray, a community college math teacher, discovered that most of his students think they’ll make $100,000 to $200,000 a year — to start — with two-year degrees in social services or early childhood education.
. . . pretty much all said that their parents told them that if they went to college, they would make three or four times the money that the parents had done. So they took their middle-aged parents salaries, multiplied by four, and assumed that would be their starting salary.
. . . So I gave them a homework assignment to gather salary and benefit information about their expected field, find out about expected future openings, talk to people in the field about what people in that job actually do, gather information about apartment costs, how much their parents spend on groceries in order to estimate food costs, health insurance, car insurance, and so on in order to develop a future budget. They were horrified. I had girls in my office in tears, upset parents on the phone going on about destroying dreams, and faculty in some of those fields upset with me and worried about their future enrollment if students found out how low the salaries and expected job openings were.
After the assignment, Margray suggested they come up with “a plan B, C and even D,” take courses that might impress an employer, such as drafting, accounting or programming, and raise their grades.
Was I killing dreams? Maybe, but should I have been better to let these young kids cruise along thinking that a two year degree is going to mean big bucks, and having totally unrealistic ideas about what doing a particular job entails?
Most of our students say that they want to be doctors, nurses, or teachers. They seldom seem to recognize that medicine has anything to do with science, and that teachers need to spend a good deal of time on math and writing. They have no idea of the job market. They really don’t know what kind of work is out there or what that work would entail.
In my newspaper days, a high school teacher asked students to write about their goals for a project I was doing. Even the F students said they were going to college. Kids who were barely passing their high school’s easiest courses thought they’d be doctors and lawyers. One girl wrote, “I will be a peedatrisin.” I think she meant pediatrician.
The teacher decided that the next assignment would ask students: What can you do today to help you achieve your goals?