Read, Explore, Engage

This article appeared in the November 2014 issue of Women’s View .

College ready, career ready, same preparation, right?  Not necessarily. No matter what post-secondary pathway you take, (a four year college, two year college, technical school, apprenticeship, military, or on-the job training), you are going to work. Before you get to that stage of your life, there is so much that can be done to plan and prepare for the future.  Most of all, you can start early.

Many times as a college admission consultant, parents ask me, “What can I do to prepare my young child for college and future careers?”  I am a firm believer that ‘college begins in kindergarten’. I first heard this phrase while consulting as a national trainer with the Education Trust, a non-profit education advocacy organization, in their National Center for Transforming School Counseling division.  The EdTrust ( promotes high academic achievement for all students.

So, if college begins in kindergarten, which will eventually lead to work, what can families with young children do to prepare them?  Here are several suggestions to increase children’s knowledge of the world around them and to prepare them for careers, some not yet in existence.

READ: Literacy is the foundation for everything we do. I love to read and Cumberland County is fortunate to have an award winning public library system with eight branches to serve its population. Have you been to the Children’s section lately to see all the activities and programs available to our kids?  I have.  Some of my young friends and I spent a Saturday afternoon at the Headquarters branch in downtown Fayetteville recently exploring games on the computer, taking turns reading books out loud, and creating magic with puzzle pieces. Guess what?  All this learning was free!

EXPLORE: So many places in our community allow children to use their imaginations, creativity, and to practice their problem-solving skills. One of my young friends’ favorite places is the   Fascinate -U Children’s Museum on Green Street. On our first trip there together, I tried to be a spectator, but they quickly let me know I had to play. We took turns rendering court decisions in the replica of a courtroom, lecturing our patients on good dental hygiene, creating and modeling the latest fashion trends, channeling our favorite newscaster, and using our problem-solving skills to build creative structures. The possibilities for using your imagination are endless at Fascinate-U and the early career awareness activities are developmentally appropriate, besides being just pure fun.

ENGAGE: Participating in the many fairs, festivals, and cultural activities in and around Cumberland County is another way to increase students’ awareness of the world around them.  We live in a global society and encouraging our children to engage in activities that provide opportunities to learn about other cultures is crucial for their future.  Walking around during September’s International Folk Festival and sampling the cuisine from various countries was a delicious way to expose my young friends to other cultures. Sampling Italian ice, Thai food, and other gastronomic wonders from other countries gave them a taste of life other than their own. Additionally, while patiently waiting for their turn on one of the inflatable tubes that drew a crowd in Linear Park, my young friends and I learned about the Lumbee Tribe; one young friend participated in the Circle Dance towards the end of the presentation.

The next time parents ask me, “What can we do to prepare our children for their future?” my reply will be to Read, Explore, and Engage.

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May 2021 Update

Professional development continues to be a major factor in my work life. With physical visits to campuses curtailed during 2020 (most are re-opening for in-person visits), I spend about 7 -10 hours per week on virtual visits with college admission counselors. The IECA, one of my professional organizations, regularly conducts College Conversations, an hour-long presentation with time built in for Q & A. To date, members of IECA had sessions with the colleges on the chart. Additionally, I added to this list by facilitating sessions in my capacity as the college counselor for the Montessori School of Raleigh where, along with the students, we learned more about UNC Charlotte, UNC Wilmington, the College of Wooster, Queens University of Charlotte, Muhlenberg, Elon, Western Carolina, North Carolina Central, the University of Alabama and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Did you know UNC Wilmington has a major in Coastal Engineering or that Western Carolina (along with UNC Pembroke and Elizabeth City State) is a NC Promise institution? A NC Promise school’s in-state tuition is $500 while non-residents pay $2500 per semester.

Our virtual world allows for hours upon hours of accessible college information sessions. I had to step back and limit myself to a reasonable number of hours of “college visits”.

I challenge my students regularly to move beyond their comfort zone and during the height of the pandemic, I stretched myself way beyond my level of comfort. I am one of 14 co-authors of Becoming The Shero, an anthology depicting the journeys of entrepreneurs at different stages of their lives. My story is in the Embracing the Pivot section.

Another way I stay current is through my new position at Providence College. As of August 2020, I am the College Supervisor for the School Counseling Program. What does the college supervisor do? I supervise the students in the program during their 2-semester internship at a school, where they are directly supervised by their Site Supervisor, a certified professional school counselor. It is the student teaching equivalent for school counseling.

Reading is a daily pleasure for me. Here are nine books (not in chronological order) that helped me to educate myself about current events and issues of social justice:

  • Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents ~ Isabel Wilkerson
  • How to Be An Anti-Racist ~ Ibram X. Kendi
  • Stamped From The Beginning ~ Ibram X. Kendi
  • I’m Still Here ~ Austin Channing Brown
  • The Color Of Law ~ Richard Rothstein
  • We Want To Do More Than Survive ~ Bettina Love
  • Down Along With That Devil’s Bones ~ Connor Towne O’Neill
  • Interrupting Racism: Equity and Social Justice in School Counseling ~ Rebecca Atkins & Alicia Oglesby
  • Why Are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? And Other Conversations About Race ~ Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph.D.

To stay up-to-date on trends in college, career and paying for college, see my list of books under the “Parent Resources” tab.

I challenge my students to be lifelong readers. I am practicing what I preach. What are you reading today?

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