Saturday, March 22, 2014

Parents: Take Charge of Your Child’s Future

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Parents: Take Charge of Your Child’s Future

            Parents often make the mistake of leaving their children’s futures in other people’s hands. They make the mistake of thinking that if they check on their kids once in a while, everything will turn out well. They think to themselves that there are many systems in place to alert them if something goes wrong and that as long as they keep an eye on their child’s report card and regularly attend parent teacher conferences, their child will be successful.

            Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. The entire American public school system is set up to prevent failure rather than to foster success. Sure, a child may pass through high school without visible problems on a report card, but any child who goes through high school without external support can only be mediocre at best, something which simply does not pass anymore in such a competitive job market. Acts such as No Child Left Behind (2001) have, in the process of raising the performances of underachieving students, limited talented students from reaching their full potential. Leaving a child’s future in a school’s hands means condemning him or her to mediocrity. The educational system brings everyone to the same level, and only the actions of parents can change this.

            High school parents often put too much faith in a school’s guidance counselors. They may think that counselors will keep an eye on their child and push them to succeed. They ride on the fact that these are the counselors’ jobs, something they are paid to do, and something that they can surely do well. In reality, high school guidance counselors often show little attachment or dedication to their students, as their jobs are little more than simply a way of making a living. Children pass by year after year like products in an assembly line and few get more than a glancing look from counselors. Counselors, even if they are sincerely invested and truly care about the students’ wellbeing (there are those out there who are), are usually bogged down in paperwork and clerical tasks and are too busy to keep a close eye on even a fraction of a student body. Furthermore, most spare time is spent on assisting failing students, rather than promoting higher levels of achievement among the good performers. There are simply too many kids and too little time for counselors to work with. Even if a child is in a very competitive school that regularly sends students to top tier universities, the counseling department can be similarly lacking. The amount of students per counselor does not differ greatly, and counselors face all the same problems with work load that are experienced in other schools. Most students will readily tell you that few success stories can be attributed to any guidance that may have been done by counselors: most come because of a student and his or her family’s own initiative.

            The public school system cannot be trusted to lift a student out of mediocrity. The best colleges which offer good job prospects are looking for anything but mediocrity, and leaving a child to stay with the crowd is a great blow to his or her future. It is not acceptable anymore to be simply okay: a student must stand out and achieve what others cannot, and that requires proactivity and alertness on the part of the whole family. Success doesn’t just happen, and parents need to lift students to be the best that they can be, whether that means getting the child test prep assistance or encouraging the child to take on extracurricular and develop their person. The future is in the parent’s hands at the end of the day, and it is foolish to let such control slip away.