What do you do when you dont know what to do?
I promised to answer that question for a certain group of high school students who will find themselves asking that question.
Former Bibb Superintendent Sharon Patterson made it a habit to ask each student crossing the platform to receive their diplomas what their plans were. Some said college. Some said the military -- and some just lied.
It may have been the first time they really thought about it in a serious context. Yes, they had been told to think about it, but some of us have to hit a wall before we pay attention.
Deep down, they knew they were approaching that wall, but it was too late to prevent the crash.
They didnt score well enough on the SAT or ACT and, at least in Georgia, they had to have a minimum score of 430 in critical reading and 400 in math to get into a state school. For the ACT, a 17 in critical reading and 17 in math is required.
Remember, thats the minimum, but many state school entrance requirements are much higher.
While in high school, students should have taken and passed:
4 units of English
4 units of mathematics
4 units of science
3 units of social science
2 units of the same foreign language or American Sign Language.
Its February. If a student is surprised by the above requirements, its too late to make it up. So what do you do if you dont know what to do?
Thinking about staying at that minimum wage burger joint should not be an option. First, the student has to accept responsibility that since his/her high school career was unsuccessful, sacrifices are in order to make up for lost time.
The days of free education are over. Teachers cant be blamed, nor can school systems. While they may share some of the blame, its the student whos flipping burgers, not the teachers or the system.
Whats wrong with flipping burgers? Nothing, but according to the National Center for Education Statistics, a college graduate in 2010 earned $40,000 annually compared to $25,000 for a high school graduate. We wont even talk about dropouts.
An extra $15,000 might not seem like much, but the world a high school graduate walks into after crossing the stage with a diploma -- or not -- is not kind. Society doesnt care if they decided to waste four of the most important years of their lives.
So what do you do? They are in a hole. Stop digging. Get in someones classroom. Head to Central Georgia Technical College and pray they get in. HOPE money may soon be available again for students with a 2.0 GPA. Those who didnt do well in high school will be required to take remediation courses, but thats the price for being lazy.
There are still a host of grants and loans out there, but be careful. Some diploma mills are full of promises until your Pell Grant runs out.
Dont let life take control. All of a sudden, its not about wanting to work but having to work because of kids and other responsibilities. Life can take over if the wrong decisions are made.
Start listening. There are people ready to help, but you have to realize what listening to your own counsel has wrought. And stop listening to the other burger flippers who are in the hole with you.
Students have to decide where they fit in the four Quadrants of Intelligence:
1. Dont know they dont know (real trouble)
2. Know they dont know (thats a start)
3. Know they know (thats what college is about)
4. Dont know how they know, but they know (sheer talent)
Weve all been through the four quadrants, but trouble will surely appear if we stay in quadrant No. 1. If we sit staring at the diploma we just received and are asking what do I do now? Were in quadrant No. 2. Lets not stay there.
Charles E. Richardson is The Telegraphs editorial page editor. He can be reached at (478)744-4342 or via e-mail at email@example.com. Tweet@crichard1020.