First graders wear hats with the name of their first-choice college. Credit: Travis Dove for The New York Times
Is Your First Grader College Ready? asks Laura Pappano in the New York Times.
At a rural North Carolina school, Kelli Rigo’s first graders choose colleges and careers, then write applications.
(A) future Harvard applicant wants to be a doctor. She can’t wait to get to Cambridge because “my mom never lets me go anywhere.”
. . . “The age-old question is: ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ You always ask kids that,” Ms. Rigo said. “We need to ask them, ‘How will you get there?’ Even if I am teaching preschool, the word ‘college’ has to be in there.”
Rigo was the first — and only — person in her family to complete college.
It took eight years at three institutions in two states. “I was lost,” said Ms. Rigo, who dropped out first semester, aghast to discover textbooks cost $600. “I didn’t have anybody to talk to about that.”
. . . She wants students to know what she did not: the effort, cost and planning required to earn a degree. “They have to understand there are lots of steps, that you can’t all of a sudden be a teacher.”
Across the country, “college weeks” are as common as the winter band concert, writes Pappano. Campus tours have become popular field trips for middle and even elementary school kids.
College can help you achieve your dreams, Javier Scott, a University of Maryland student told visiting sixth graders. “When you work hard, more opportunities will open up to you.”
However, the story veers to anxious college-educated parents prepping their tweens for elite colleges. Pappano worries that our “competitive culture . . . has turned wide-open years of childhood into a checklist of readiness skills.”
That’s not an issue for Rigo’s first graders. Getting kids whose parents aren’t college educated to think about where they might go, what they might study and how they might use it to make a living is not the same as pressuring Muffy to build her “resume.”