"Who in the world am I? Ah, that's the great puzzle.
- Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
You may have heard that without vision, teenagers wander into food court water fountains. Or something like that. It's the same with college planning, without a vision, college-bound students may wander. College planning is a process. You need a plan. In the "Rising Cost of Not Going to College," researchers learned that "the surest path to a good job and satisfying career runs through college."
In Genesis 2:15, we read that God placed man in the garden to "work and watch over it." The original desire for work was a blessing. It sounds like Adam's higher calling was to be a gardener!
Mark Twain said, "The two most important days in your life are the day you're born and the day you find out why." Here are four steps you can take to help you find your why.
Step 1: First, decide that you want to earn a post-secondary education. This is important because some jobs may only require a certificate or some technical training. Others require more education. I recommend earning a four-year bachelor's degree since 65% of future jobs will require a bachelor's degree.
A 53-year old firefighter has been working as a professional fireman in Dallas since he was 19 years old. What an incredible career of service to his community! He earned his 2-year associate's degree years ago. When a Fire Chief opening became available, he wanted to apply. While he has the required experience, he does not have the required education. To become a Fire Chief, he needs a 4-year bachelor's degree. It is important to know what your career goals are, so you can plan accordingly.
Once a decision to earn a bachelor's degree has been made, you need to develop a plan. Start by searching for a major in a fast growing career that complements your calling. When trying to figure out what you're called to do, remember to consider what problems you want to solve, what grips your heart, and even what keeps you up at night - besides cramming for that world history midterm.
Step 2: Once you have selected a major, find a college that is a good academic, social, and emotional fit. If you select a college before you select a career option, you may find out that your favorite I'm-going-to-this-college-no-matter-what doesn't have a program with your desired major.
And what about the potential social and emotional fit. Angel Perez, Director of Admission at Pitzer College wisely said to “keep an open mind about everything you do in college. . . ‘some may’ make you uncomfortable. If you are always comfortable, you will never grow.” Bruce Poch, Dean of Admissions at Pomona College added that "Students who know what they are looking for have better luck finding it and can do a better job of articulating their hopes and interests in their applications.
So step 1 (major selection) comes before step 2 (college selection).
Step 3: Then, when you have a list of colleges that are a good match based on your career choice, you can determine which is the best financial fit. If you start with the cost in mind, you may eliminate affordable options. Since the average four-year cost of attendance is between $83,000 - $183,000 depending on the college (public or private) and career (liberal arts, engineering, aviation), you need to have a plan to pay for college.
Step 4: Now that you've made a commitment to attend the college that is the best fit for you, you're ready to begin preparing for your higher calling, future career and life goals. So let's start career planning.
Robert J. Massa, VP for Enrollment at Dickinson College once said that "There are at least 50 colleges that will be a “right fit” for you!” The challenge is to narrow them down to the right one. Making wise decisions doesn't just happen. You need to plan, work, review, and revise your plans. Remember, discovering your higher calling, as well as college planning, is a process (video by Chispa Motivation).
FUN FACT: At some colleges, students are tossed into campus water fountains on their birthday. Hope you were born in a warm month!
College planning is a journey to take; not a payment to make.
You may have heard about the man who influenced so many affluent parents, test proctors, college coaches, and administrators into a scheme allowing underqualified students to be accepted into elite universities. They all took away a chance for well-deserving students to get an education at one of those universities.
However, I’m not shocked that these families were desperate for college admissions. Last year a family from Vietnam was charged $1.5 million for help applying to elite U.S. colleges.
On Tuesday, March 12, FBI Agent Laura Smith filed an affidavit indicting about 50 people with being a part of a bribing scandal (dubbed “Operation Varsity Blues”) involving college entrance exam administrators, college varsity coaches, and others using the façade of a charitable organization to funnel payments.
Yes, this happens.
No, this is not indicative of college admissions professionals, college coaches, or independent educational consultants (IEC) who work in the career and college planning industry.
Ethical IECs would not stoop to bribing or coercing college admissions officials on behalf of a student. They would work with that student to recommend majors, programs, and colleges that are the right fit based on their personal vision for their career. They would not do the work for them, but would coach them, like an athlete, to be their best self.
The Chronicle of Higher Education asked Arun Ponnusamy, chief academic officer at CollegeWise, a college-advising company based in California, about William Singer. “This guy was a fixer, not a counselor,” he said. “It doesn’t resemble the work that 99 percent of people who call themselves counselors do.”
The work required of a student to attend a college or university includes visiting colleges, completing the applications, writing essays, filing the FAFSA, submitting portfolios (artists, athletes, etc.) applying for scholarships, comparing financial aid award letters, and more. College-bound students work with their school counselor and some hire an IEC for additional, personalized guidance. In their 2018 trends report, 93 percent of HECA members said they “provide pro bono consulting to clients in need.”
Many IECs are former educators, school counselors, college admission officers, ministers, musicians, and athletic directors. College admissions organizations like NACAC, TACAC, HECA, IECA, and CEP have strict membership requirements along with a code of ethics. Here is the NACAC Code of Ethics and Professional Practices. HECA, IECA, and CEP require members to visit colleges each year, take ethics quizzes, and demonstrate knowledge of the ever-changing college admissions industry. Colleges like UCLA, UC Irvine, and Rice offer certificates in college planning. (I am a member of NACAC, TACAC, and HECA and have received my college counseling certification from UCLA.)
Here are a few thoughts for parents about desperate college admissions.
Parents don’t have to be desperate about college admissions when they teach their students how to earn their seat in college.
Teach them, coach them, tutor them to take personal responsibility or hire a teacher, coach, or tutor to help them. There are many desperate “drone parents” (you know, the parents who hover, watch their students every move, get too nosy, etc.) who are just as guilty as William Singer. These parents are writing their kids admission essays (or paying someone to write them). These parents are pushing their kids to live the life they didn’t. These parents are not teaching their kids to be responsible adults.
Parents can teach their students how to earn their seat in college through hard work, failure, grit, character, deadlines made, deadlines missed, and frustrated tears. You’re helping them grow and setting them up for success in life.
If your kids don’t attend college, that is okay. College does not define them or their value.
Parents don’t have to be desperate about college admissions when they understand their kids’ true value.
Your child was created in the image of God to bear good fruit. If your daughter was born with learning disabilities, adopted as a teenager, or just became the spelling bee champion, she has value. If your son wants to bypass higher education to operate a crane, he has value.
Their value is not embroidered on their pocket or their annual salary ten years after graduation. Don’t compare them to someone they were not created to be. Love them for who they are. Love them because he or she is your child.
In the FBI investigation titled “Operation Varsity Blues”, they learned that the scam involved cheating on standardized tests or falsifying athletic records.
Standardized Testing: In a conversation with Gordon Caplan, Cooperating Witness 1 (CW-1) said the kids who didn’t think they would perform well on the test did better than they thought. So, they would call CW-1 “and say, ‘Maybe I should do it again. I did pretty well and if I took it again, I’ll do better even’. Right? And they just have no idea that they didn’t even get the score that they thought they got.”
Most families don’t realize that over 1,000 colleges are test optional. Meaning you don’t have to submit (or even take) the SAT or ACT.
College Athletics: In other cases, CW-1 created fake athletic accounts for students so they could be admitted to the university as an athlete. Many colleges have lower admissions requirements for athletes than academics. So, students who had never attached a boat to a mooring buoy or served an ace in a game 6 tie breaker were accepted to the sailing and tennis teams.
This is one of the soft areas that allow students admission to a college. Now that it has been exposed, higher education will have to address this weakness and change the way athletes are recruited.
Parents don’t have to be desperate about college admissions when all students are required to enter the same door as everyone else.
The Michigan Union on the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor was originally built in 1919 as a social center for male students. Women could only enter the building if escorted through side doors. Women could use the front doors in 1957 and second floor billiards in 1969. Today, everyone enters through the same door. As everyone, everywhere should.
In this college recruitment scheme, it is reported that CW-1 assured over 800 families that “he could facilitate their children’s admission to certain universities via what he termed the ‘side door.’” This was a way for students with below average grades to be guaranteed admission.
THERE ARE NO SIDE DOORS!
No window. No underground tunnel. Everyone should enter the same door to college – that is what the admissions requirements provide. Massachusetts U.S. attorney Andrew Lelling, emphasized that “there will not be a separate admissions system for the wealthy. And there will not be a separate criminal justice system, either."
The higher education community knows that wealthy donors and alumni can influence a decision based on the promise of a hefty donation to a university. It also happens in private high school education. Need new science equipment? Admit my daughter and you’ll get your equipment. None of that is illegal. But is it ethical?
NACAC’s executive director for educational content and policy, David Hawkins, shared with Education Week that "we have to do a better job of stressing the importance of fit in the process, not that [acceptance into a selective university] will make or break your life. Your future success will depend more on how you will take advantage of your college education rather than where you got in."
Parents don’t have to be desperate about college admissions.
There are almost 2,500 four-year colleges and universities that will let your student in the front door. Twenty million students will attend college this year. Your student has to meet the requirements for admission just like every other prospective student. If you’re among the 44 percent who did not get accepted into a four-year institution, you can enroll in one of the hundreds of two-year colleges and transfer. Just like I did!
Remember, when your student is taking a standardized test, trying out for a sport, or applying for college, they don’t have to be desperate.
Neither do you.
The Role of a Physical Therapist
Physical therapists, sometimes referred to as PTs, help people who have injuries or illnesses improve their movement and manage their pain. They are often an important part of rehabilitation and treatment of patients with chronic conditions or injuries.
Demand: PTs provide care to people of all ages who have functional problems resulting from sprains, strains, and injuries from cranes (the equipment or the bird). They work with aging baby boomers who are staying active and older persons who are not (heart attacks, strokes, and mobility-related injuries), and others with birth conditions.
Developments: Medical and technological developments also are expected to permit a greater percentage of trauma victims and newborns with birth defects to survive, creating additional demand for rehabilitative care. PTs are trained to use a variety of different techniques—sometimes called modalities—to care for their patients. These techniques include applying heat and cold, hands-on stimulation or massage, and using assistive and adaptive devices and equipment.
Diseases: The work of PTs varies with the type of patients they serve. For example, a patient suffering from loss of mobility due to Parkinson’s disease needs different care than an athlete recovering from an injury. The incidence of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, has increased in recent years, requiring more physical therapists to help patients manage the effects of these diseases.
Da-Technology: Advances in medical technology have increased the use of outpatient surgery to treat a variety of injuries and illnesses. PTs will continue to play an important role in helping these patients recover more quickly from surgery. Technology will aid, rather than replace workers in this field. Soldiers are receiving C-Legs or C-Arms with an imbedded chip allowing them to recover with the most natural feel.
What is the Job Outlook for Physical Therapists?
The Occupational Outlook Handbook is a great resource to learn about careers. It is constantly among the fastest growing careers and is projected to grow 28 percent through 2026. The median annual wage for physical therapists was $86,850 in May 2017, which has risen $10,000 in less than five years.
While 58 percent work in private hospitals or offices, 17 percent work in home health care and residential care facilities, 7 percent are self-employed.
Most PTs work full time (29 percent are part time). PTs spend much of their time on their feet, being active. Job prospects should be especially favorable in rural areas because many PTs live in highly populated urban and suburban areas.
How to Become a Physical Therapist
Some careers don’t require specific undergraduate education. However, in the medical world, a criminal justice major cannot find a job as a physical therapist. You’d have to change majors and be very specific when looking for colleges that prepare you to become a physical therapist.
While in high school, your curriculum should include: Physics (mechanics, force, joints), Anatomy & Physiology (duh?), Chemistry, Statistics (to interpret research), Psychology (to understand people), Biology (something about the study of life), and English Composition (you need clear written and verbal communication).
As an undergraduate student, there are hundreds of colleges but your program options are limited to Athletic Trainer, Kinesiology and Exercise Science and Pre-Physical Therapy.
Professional physical therapy programs no longer offer masters degrees, so you must earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) and pass a state licensure exam to work in the field.
According to the American Physical Therapy Association, there were 209 accredited physical therapist education programs in 2007. Of the accredited programs, 43 offered master's degrees and 166 offered doctoral degrees. In the future, a doctoral degree might be the required entry-level degree.
One Student’s Journey to Becoming a Physical Therapist
I sat down with Stan to learn more about how he became a physical therapist. He was like most high school students – unsure what pathway he wanted to pursue. He loved English and Biology, but hated math. As a student-athlete, he played on the offensive line in football and wrestled and mulled over the possibility of becoming an athletic trainer.
He enrolled at the University of North Texas where he earned his bachelor of science in criminal justice However, he took a freshman anatomy & physiology course that piqued his interest. After graduating, he went back to earn his masters (MPT) while working as a PT Tech (who mainly observes and assists, but does not diagnose or counsel).
He has worked at two hospitals as a PT and recently earned his Doctorate of Physical Therapy! In the hospital, he works with the general population or with recovering ICU patients. He loves seeing results and seeing patients achieve their goals. Depending on their plan, he may see patients once or multiple times.
No job is without its challenges. As a physical therapist, you are constantly working with people who are in pain or are sick and you’re always on your feet. You’ll have to lift people, speak clearly, listen intently, and be patient. Stan said PTs have to manage other people’s schedules, agendas & goals while working with an Interdisciplinary Team (usually 6 people per patient).
With so many refusing treatments, he has to explain why therapy is important and he said it reminds him of the movie “50 First Dates.”
But in the end, he reminds himself that it’s not about him – it is not about advancement or agendas, it’s about the patient.
If you want to become a physical therapist like Stan, you’ll need to have the following characteristics:
Finally, Stan shared a few misconceptions. People think they are walking techs – he is actually a doctor. PTs are not human cranes, they are “helpers” not “doers.” They do not manipulate bones like a chiropractor. Chiropractors want to fix problems by popping your back (temporary solution) so they can have lifelong clients. PTs are looking for the root cause and want you to get back on your feet.
Combining my youth ministry and educational consulting experience, I guide students to connect higher education with God's calling.