A couple weeks ago, I had the amazing opportunity to hang out with an after school girls group at my old middle school. My favorite 8th grade teacher is apparently still one of the coolest teachers in school, the girls love her. She brought me in to talk to them about college, teach them some bellydance moves and talk about life. I was super nervous going to middle school. Kids are really judgmental at that age, and if I did not impress them in the first few minutes I knew that they wouldn’t pay attention to me at all. Fortunately, they were in to what I had to say. Due to time constraints we could only really talk about college but there are so many things I wish I could communicate to a middle school girl.
When speaking to them I talked about how the story they are sold that they should just go to college and they’ll get a good job isn’t quite true. I had the girls close their eyes and raise their hands if they were concerned that their families wouldn’t be able to send them to school and at least a third did. My tips for maximizing financial success post college include.
· Have an idea when you go in, of what kind of job you’d like when you get out. I have too many friends struggling to make ends meet who have expensive liberal arts degrees that barely give them an employment advantage over a high school diploma. If you are going to college to better your economic outcomes have a plan, “go to college,” isn’t a plan.
· Our local community college is highly ranked and has guaranteed admissions agreements with lots of highly regarded schools. Starting at community college is a great way to minimize college expenses and ultimately student loan debt. I emphasized to the girls that if you start at community college and transfer into a 4 year institution your diploma is just from that 4 year institution.
· Good grades can translate into scholarship money, which translates into money in your pocket.
· Often school isn’t that hard. Many teachers will give full credit just for doing your homework, doesn’t matter if you get it right. Take the easy opportunities to boost your GPA.
· Find and make friends with a teacher who will advocate for you. This is useful for everyone, but especially if you feel like your parents are not in a good position to advocate for you.
· Consider trade school. I do have a BA, but it’s my massage therapy certificate that enables me to go to work. I know many successful, massage therapists, dental assistants, hair stylists and nurses. Trade school prepares you for a very specific line of work and employment in that field is generally pretty easy after.
I would have loved to talk to these girls about boys, but It’s probably good that we didn’t have the opportunity. I probably would have broken school rules.
· Don’t rush into sex. Don’t rush into sex. Don’t rush into sex. Especially that young, it’s very easy to develop a “reputation” in your early teens, which can turn you into a social pariah.
· When you do have sex, be safe and do it only because YOU want to.
· If you like girls, that’s fine.
For some reason middle school feels like a popularity contest everyone is losing. One girl asked me, “What if your friends are holding you back and they don’t realize it?” Go after what’s important to you. If your friends are really your friends, they’ll still be there.
· Most of the stuff you are worried about today won’t matter even three years from now.
· Quality of friends is so much more important than quantity of friends.
· You do not benefit at all from teasing or making fun of anyone. Uplift other girls.
· If you really look around, everyone is awkward in middle school, you will all outgrow it.
The girls are having a slumber party next month, hopefully I can make it.