Throughout their lives, kids have one common question that they are asked by their peers, whether they are other kids, or adults: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” For young children, it is an opportunity to ramble on about their aspirations. This could range from anything as tame as a doctor to dreams as vivid as a unicorn trainer. As kids grow up to be pre-teens, this seemingly simple question becomes overwhelming and confusing. For many, the question begins to pop up everywhere. Where does this dreaded question become most prominent? The answer is the eighth grade year of school.
In Keller ISD, a career pathway is chosen when creating schedules in the eighth grade. Students are told they must choose one and create their entire hypothetical schedule for grades 9-12 before even stepping through the doors of high school. This means that kids that are 13 or 14 years old are expected to know what the 18-year-old version of themselves will want to be when they “grow up.”
A poll recently taken on the Timber Creek Talon showed that almost 80% of students felt uncomfortable choosing a pathway in the eighth grade. This is troubling because students should not feel rushed into decisions that they do not feel ready for. And how could they be? Deciding a career is in essence plotting the remaining course of one’s life, something a teenager isn’t qualified to do without the necessary experience.
One may say that because the opportunity to switch pathways is available, there should not be any issues. While ideally, this would be the case, students are often advised not to switch pathways. Even after only freshman year, students are told to be cautious when changing pathways. After the opportunity between freshman and sophomore year, it’s pretty much impossible to get switched into another pathway. The idea of switching pathways is contradictory in it of itself. Had students not been rushed into the decision, they would never have to switch in the first place. The same poll mentioned before stated that almost 60% of students said they had changed their pathway in the past. This implies that the students who switched were unhappy in their current pathway and felt it necessary to switch out.
How can this issue be solved? While most pathways are set in stone, the multi-disciplinary pathway offered is a chance to choose classes that are interesting to the student. This allows a quality of fluidity the normal pathways do not carry. Students should not be forced into a pathway, but rather all put into multi-disciplinary to choose the classes they want from year to year. Alternatively, students could have the option to choose a pathway when they feel prepared, whether that be eighth grade, tenth grade or not at all. This way students can get to know themselves before making a possibly life-altering decision. Either way, students should not be rushed into the decision of a career in the eighth grade. Let the kids enjoy their childhood before it’s gone.