Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Your Future Now

Hey, you there!

Yeah you, walking into school. You there, sitting at your desk. You—the student—trudging through classes: it’s time to think about what you’re going to do next. Soon you’ll be on to bigger and better things, right?

But how are you going to get there? Like, what’s your next step? Are you ready for what awaits you after that diploma is in hand? Do you know how much your future is going to cost?

Here are some fun facts:

  • Do you know people your age will have 10 to 14 careers before they retire. Not jobs – I am talking careers!
  • Do you know that the top ten jobs for 2014 do not exist yet?
  • Do you know that you can make more money as a plumber than you can as a doctor these days?
  • Do you know college is going to cost a small fortune?

Sound like a lot to process? You should be nodding yes right now.

And, you should also be asking yourself a question— “where do I start?”

This is the updated version of the age old question: “What do I want to be when I grow up?”

Well, before I offer answers, you should know that while you’re deciding whether you’ll take a year off before college, there’s a student in China working by candlelight just to get into the best international business school. And while you’re thinking– “I’m going to just take a few courses to see if I like college,” a student in India is working two jobs to become a computer technician.

The reality is that you are living in a country that is competing with an entire world. And it is all happening on the internet.

Right now while you read this letter, students in fifty countries are beating you out for top paying jobs in America. Tonight, as you sleep, Boeing 757’s will be built with parts from twenty different countries. Tomorrow, when your mother’s computer breaks, she’ll call a customer service representative who is actually a 20-year-old college student in Bangladesh. The computer tech will fix the problem remotely; her job is an internship for the profession she is pursuing (she is studying right at her desk at work).

Are your eyes open, yet? Your world is not about just waiting for opportunity to knock- or taking some time to figure it out first. You’re gonna need mad skills, my brothers and sisters. And you’re going to need them fast.

So let’s get back to that question: “where do you start?”

You’d be awfully smart, if you are thinking college or a credible trade school. You’d get a golden-ticket, if you were thinking of an internship and a lot of hard work with little pay for a few years. You’d be some-kind-of-wonderful, if you are thinking “I am going do what ever needs to be done to get somewhere in this world.”

In order to make any of the above a reality, it means starting right now. As you read through this little exposé on your future, every wheel should be turning in the direction of forward motion. Of course, if you are moving forward you need remember everything you can to find success.

Successful people make a plan. Here’s a good plan:

First, the class you’re getting ready to walk into right now— pass it! Get it done and out of the way- along with the rest of those pesky classes as well.

Second, find out what kind of college money is out there for you. Believe me there isn’t much. Our government has not raised basic financial aid funding in almost twenty years. Yet, this doesn’t mean that it’s impossible to get some free money. You have to get your Financial Aid (FAFSA) papers in promptly, so that if you come up short you can tap into other resources. Grants. Scholarships. Controlled interest student loans. Jobs that help pay for college! This is all possible if you are planning in advance.

Next, pick the right program. (Side bar here: the ad on the internet that promises a “Bachelor’s Degree in 30 days” is not the way to get anywhere in our world.) After you have a program in mind, you need to find out what colleges or trade schools have the best success rates for the profession you want to pursue.

Do research on the schools. Make sure you can afford to attend. Do not under estimate a single dollar. Consider travel, entertainment, books, food, and health insurance (if you’re going away to school). Do not assume that Mom and Dad are going to foot the bill. This is your future we’re talking about not theirs. Dig down deep and earn your keep.

Finally, you need to put the plan in motion. Get your college applications in as soon as possible. Find out when the deadlines are for applications. Do not wait for the last minute to apply. Recognize that some programs only take freshmen in September. Other programs might require portfolios. Do you need to take an SAT? Do you have the grades to even get in to the school? Assume nothing. Ask questions. Have TWO back-up schools that you would happy to attend as additional possibilities. Listen to anyone and everyone talking about how to “get in.” Like this letter, for example. Like me, if you want that golden ticket.

The answers to your questions are closer than you may think. Just about every school has a college or career advisor. Find out what the local colleges are doing to present information. Go to an open house at a local school. Note that when they discuss financial aid they are passing on information that is valuable no matter what school you attend.

And in the end - if you still have questions- feel free to contact me.

Michael De Vito Jr.
Career and Education Advisor
Young Adult Borough Center

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