Coming of Age Challenge #2: Educational and Future Career

Challenge #2: Education/Academic  - October 2011

Last year Grade Zoé-Pascale had to research and write a report on careers she was interested in and Universities that provided similar degrees. As we all know, at 12 what you want to do might change drastically by the time you are 20, but her choice (at this time) is to be a Marine Mammal Veterinarian. Recognizing, after doing the research s,he first need to go to Vet school and then specialize in Marine Mammals, she proudly announced Cornell, UC Davis, and Australia as 3 top choices.  As one of her challenges she asked if we could go visit UC Davis, one of the premiere Vet schools in the country.

Our second challenge, therefore revolved around the topic of Education/ Future Careers and a trip to UC Davis to visit the school, the campus, learn what is required to be accepted, and get a feel for university life. Most kids start the process in 11thgrade, but now having done this I highly recommend starting much earlier as the level of anxiety is much less knowing you still have years to decide.

We set off to spend the weekend in Sacramento, checked into the Embassy Suites, had free cocktails, took a hot tub and swam, ate dinner and snuggled in for a bit of TV. Since we don’t actually have a television at home (Hulu, Netflicks, and a computer screen) this was a treat. Going on vacation with a TV is uniquely different for us.  Saturday morning we headed down to UC Davis to join the prescheduled tours lead by students.  In an orderly fashion they organized teens and their parents (who were mostly seniors) into groups of ten. Taking a 3 mile tour of the campus, we were shown the major schools, dorms, eating areas, social halls, high class gym and sports facility, and were told what it was to be a student at UC Davis. The enthusiasm and gratefulness to be a UC Davis senior exuded from our tour guide with every sentence. She explained the choices to get involved, where to live, how to ride your bike (and what kind of bike to get), how classes were organized for freshman versus seniors, extra curricular activities, professors, and the town. She learned that the average grade point average is 4.02 and we learned the costs (adding up 16% increase by the time she gets to college) will be $50,000 per year for a UC. The sticker shock continues to be increasingly unsettling as costs for college escalate faster than income, our 529 plan or savings.

During this entire tour, Zoe-Pascale stayed right up front listening to every word that was said and simultaneously being aware that she had plenty of time to mull it over.  Jean and I were ready to go back to school and leave her at home. Seriously, we were a bit overwhelmed and mostly grateful that we did not have to make a decision. We only had to take it in and enjoy the process.

Zoe-Pascale’s challenge was to have the confidence to take this tour, ask at least one question, and see the reality of the importance of doing well in school if she truly wanted to become a Vet (or anything for that matter).  Overall, it was successful and again a relief we don’t have to make any decisions now! 

PS. We expanded our UC Davis trip by stopping off at the Outlet Malls on the way up and staying in Sacramento at the Embassy Suites for the weekend. Add in a walk and bike ride on the Sacramento River, a visit to Old Town, and a private tour (because no one else was there) of the State Capital Building, legislature, and gardens and you have an easy and different educational weekend.