This section really struck a chord with me. I am the type of person that likes to look at all the options before making a major decision. I look at the pros and cons of all the options, and let them brew in my mind for a while. This can be heart-wrenching. I often pray and ask for divine guidance before making a major decision, and I find that once I do that, I feel a certain peace in my heart and mind about the decision I made. The statement “Forfeiting options certainly is not an easy or pleasant task for many people, especially when multiple options exist, each having their unique advantages and disadvantages.” This has been so true for my family as we have gone through the college application process twice in the last two years. Trying to help my son and daughter choose the best college option was both exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. My eldest son, being the first one to go through the college application process, had many options available to him and deciding on a college was a long and difficult process, but in the end, things became clearer and clearer, and our family, and my son especially, felt good about the final decision.
The part that stuck in my mind as i was reading was the quote, "As human beings we are responsible for the decisions we make and because there are no guarantees in life, we sometimes risk making decisions that may prove to have negative consequences; however our risks may pay off and open doors. Life is full of decisions and sometimes we make the right decisions and sometimes, even if we think we have all the needed information, we don't make the right decisions. I think the pep talk is trying to let us know that even if we make the wrong decision, we hopefully learn something. If a student chooses to enter college early, hopefully they have weighed the pros and cons and they feel they are making the very best decision.
Overall, I thought it was an easy and helpful read that parents and students confronted with this important decision to read together. I think this section is a great conversation starter about fears, expectations, consequences (both positive and negatives), etc. It’s important that both the student and parent not take passive roles in the decision making process. Before I started my teaching career, I served as a project manager for a national nonprofit organization serving mostly low socioeconomic high risk (of dropping out) students and their families. Although the goal of the program was to serve this specific student profile not all the students who I served me were high risk students. There were times when we assisted students who were in the top 10 and 5 percentile of their graduating class. It was very refreshing to see that students were excited about going to college but it was also an eye opener to observe that as they sat down in front of college and university pamphlets they felt like whatever choice they made it was set in stone forever. In relating the mentioned to the what I read in this section the sentence that popped out for me with my previous experience serving high school students was “a common belief is that by making a decision, one is somehow sealing his or her own (or perhaps someone else’s) fate” (page 38). I agree that making this important decision is not to be taken lightly but it does not “seal” your fate. We need to remember to be flexible in life (something I’m working on myself). I agree with Moratori’s statement that we must “remember that even when things don’t work out ideally, we still have the opportunity to learn valuable lessons from our decisions” (page 38). I can only hope that both the student and parent have a profound conversation where they discuss the pros and cons about early entrance into college and act upon what they feel is right for him or her and their academic and career objectives.
As a classroom teacher I felt like the author was really talking more to parents than teachers. Teachers don’t have a lot to say about GT classes in middle school. Our biggest job in middle school is to motivate and keep the students in the more challenging GT classes and not let them coast through three years. The authors statement, “Not making a decision is making a decision.” may be true, but middle school students generally would have been better off making a conscious decision instead of drifting along letting the world make decisions for them. This is where teachers can help guide students to better choices. We can’t really “make” them do anything; they need to decide on their own that a course of action is their best option. The other thing the author said I did like was “who said that all decisions must be permanent if we are unhappy with them?” Teachers can give students options and experiences that will help them make better more informed decisions based on real experiences and not on perception and unfounded expectations that students may have.
I liked rangelp's comment about "we need to remember to be flexible in life". For middle school teachers this just about sums up our job when we deal with GT students. On top of all the normal problems a 14 year old student has they are also very smart. The more options we can give them the more successful that they will be and I think the happier the teacher will be too.
Ambivalence means uncertainey or conflicting feelings about a subject. I agree that if I have a problem about making decisions because of this, it can be stressful and debilitating. Consequently, the default to not making a decision beccomes a decision in itself. It is a valuable lesson to learn that when things don't work well, based on a decision I have made, I can still learn from it and also, that there is usually another route to take that gets me where I want to go. This is a great passage.
The phrase that hit me right between the eyes was "Not making a decision is making a decision". I come from a long line of decisive people (the Dutch are so pragmatic). I've seem so many people flounder in their indecisiveness till life just passes them by. Some people have turned should I or shouldn't I into a lifestyle. One can over research a topic or a decision. One of the many things (along with bad eyes and aching joints) that old age brings is the awareness that there are many ways to get to where you want to go.To quote John Lennon - "Life is what happens while you're making other plans".
Oliverl, I agree that this is really a book for parents - perhaps one a counselor would keep in their office and lend out Hopefully they will get it back! The first couple of chapters, where the authors talks about alternatives to college have information that are of interest to an educator.
In response to OliverL posting of June 17, I agree with you when you wrote: Teachers can give students options and experiences that will help them make better more informed decisions based on real experiences and not on perception and unfounded expectations that students may have. I especially found this to be applicable when 5th graders are deciding whether to enter the GT math track in middle school, or follow the PreAP route instead. I often remind students and their parents, that if the testing information shows a need to more challenge in math, it’s always worth giving it a shot and having the opportunity available to them. If, however, it proves to be too difficult, then they can always change. As the author states, “Who said that all decisions must be permanent if we are unhappy with them?” Keeping your options open is what I advise parents and their GT child.
In response to OliverL's comment on June 17th: I agree these chapters were written more for students and parents. I believe Chapter 4 is a must read for any parent whose child is considering early entrance to college. The chapter can help alleviate many parent's fears. Chapter 5 is a must read for the students (page 65-68) where students share the version of what "success" is in college. I would definitely recommend this book to any parent or student.
Though I don't expect anyone to jump into making a decision right away, I think you have to weigh your options and just go with your gut. Like I tell my athletes, don't think too much, you'll drive yourself crazy. Sometimes you have to pray and meditate on the situation, and just jump in with both feet. Is it the end of the world? Apparently not, as we read, some students went back or transfered to other campuses.
Jeff, I like your attitude about it not being the end of the world - decisions can be changed. Sometimes kids believe that decisions are set in stone. They are afraid of being considered failures if they change their mind or find they made the wrong decision. GT are very hard on themselves and don't allow themselves to "fail".
I certainly take the stance that decisions should be proactive rather than being passive or reactive. I believe in weighing all the advantages and disadvantages to reaching a decision. I believe that it requires patience in weighing your options and certainly not procrastination. It is true that we may make a decision that was later to be discovered the wrong one but that’s life and we do learn from our detours and mistakes. I am a researcher and I will not commit to a decision until I believe I have thoroughly looked down the path as to what may occur by making that choice. I am a risk taker as well and I do enjoy making decisions that may be unconventional but I go with my gut/heart combined with the scientific approach from some hard core research/planning/thinking in making my decision.
I agree with mixkid and their comment on the "pep talk". Making wrong decisions is a part of life and those decisions ultimately make us better people in the end!
I have learned that making decisions takes a lot of thought and looking at the possible consequences of my decision is important to me. I am not usually a risk taker . I am a planner and not spontaneous in my decision process. With four children, I have to make decisions all the time for what is best for them. I base my choices on what I anticipate will be a successful experience for my children or myself. I weigh the options and anticipate the consequences. I am a gatherer of information, therefore, before making a decision, I feel confident that I have done my best in considering all options and will not put it off – the decision will be made right or wrong.
As theo said, we do learn from sometimes making bad choices and I think that only builds character and makes you a better person. We try to instill this in our students, some of which are perfectionists, that it is OK to get an answer wrong or to not "know it all". That is what learning is all about!
Students are so use to everyone making decisions for them, no matter how frivilous or life changing. Oten times, choice making does seem like an end all, be all rather than a fork in the road being one of the "multiple ways to arrive at a destination"(39). I have struggled with changing my mindset to finding the positives in the decisions and enjoy the journey rather than a particular destination.
In response to mixkid post definitely agree with you. Yes, life is all about making decisions. Whether we make a list of the pros and cons or use a “magic 8 ball” we must face the risks and consequences that come with those decisions. There are no guarantees in life but one can only hope for a well thought out decision based on gut, research and what’s right for that individual student, parent and family when it comes to making the choice of entering college early. Even then a well thought out decision sometimes doesn’t prove to be the best but one must be flexible in life and learn from every experience or opportunity.
When I read the "pep talk", I wasn't very impressed. It seems obvious to me that it is a HUGE decision to be made by the child and parents. I think that we always have choices to make. Obviously some are far more difficult and important than others.
To me, the pep talk sounded more like an adult admonishing an ambivalent child than a real "pep talk." I do think that if you choose to enter college early, you have, to some extent, made a decision that has decided a certain fate for you--realistically, if you feel it was the wrong choice a semester or a year after beginning, you wouldn't be able to go back to high school, so in a sense, that avenue would be closed off to you.
I agree with oliverl's first comment that the author seemed to be speaking more to the parents. It seems to me that if you have a student who is the one who is truly motivated to enter college early (which is the ideal situation), they will most likely possess a maturity and drive to do so and the parent may be the one who needs to be fully convinced, or given a pep talk.
This pep talk appears to have been written mainly for the parents and not much for the students. I did like page 43 where it made reference to the "wrong reasons" to go ( prestige). The sections where the students were the ones to find out about the programs, and then they needed to sell their parents on the idea was good. Currently I am seeing most parents ( GT Included) doing all of the college searching, research, planning the college visits even without the students knowledge. A question for this topic, with the way parents are becoming such helicopters, connected with their students so much ( daily through texting) has there been an increase or decrease in early college admittance?
In response to "Of Life" and a few others, I too believe that many of my students are very indecisive, and their parents are making all of their decisions, but if they do make a decision, they can change their mind several times and it is ok. We keep this going with course selections in high school. They make up a schedule in February, a copy is mailed home for the parent/ student to respond to. Some make a change then, some in May and some once the school year starts and the Master schedule has been made. It is always ok the way we run things to keep on changing. We might say no more schedule changes, but we do continue them. We want to keep all participants happy, so the students learn there is no real firm decision being made here, so does it matter? Does making any decision really matter? I wish they could decide on something and stick with it
Jeff, You are correct. Even Dr. Muratori agrees that not all decisions are final destinations to how one's life will end. Many decisions made just offer a proverbial crossroads on the pathway of life. A person can spend so much time making a decison based on an end result that he/she looses sight of the journey.
I agree with mixkid when she commented, "I think the pep talk is trying to let us know that even if we make the wrong decision, we hopefully learn something". Personal note, growing up, I was not taught that way and it was very difficult because decisions usually were made for me. It didn't help my confidence or to develop my decision making ability.