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More to aim for besides 4-year colleges
Messer: Have a serious talk with your kids about careers
Art projects by Manteca High students from a few years back depicting their 9-11 feelings provide a backdrop in the third floor lobby as Manteca Unified School District Superintendent Jason Messer makes a point about the need for parents to have serious career discussions with their children. - photo by HIME ROMERO
Jason Messer may be the Manteca Unified School District superintendent but he’s also a parent.

And it took his daughter Kailin who is doing well in school to further drive home the point schools have to do a better job preparing students for life beyond high school.

Messer and his wife Kristen who teaches second grade at Great Valley School were prepared to go on a spring trip to Southern California university campuses believing they were following the course that their 16 year-old was leaning toward.

But then she dropped a bombshell - at least from the perspective of her parents. She wanted to become a nurse. None of the Southern California universities they picked to check out offered nursing programs.

Kailin, though, had done her research. She found that the military offered $57,000 to pay for education if she joined them with the intent of becoming a nurse.

That didn’t sit too well with her mom who Messer said was emphatic that she “didn’t raise her daughter to join the military.”

The 16-year-old researched and found that Delta College in her own back yard had one of the best nursing programs around. She made an appointment on her own to talk to a counselor there and discovered many of the college prep course she was taking in math and sciences to get into a prestigious four year school weren’t what were required to gain entrance into a nursing program.

So for her senior year she scrambled to switch classes and tried to get into a work program in the nursing field. But her home school district of Lincoln Unified School District in north Stockton didn’t offer it. Her parents then worked to get her into the program at Doctors Hospital of Manteca where she could get some practical experience so she could be sure 100 percent that nursing was the right career for her.
“Parents need to be real,” Messer said. “They need to sit down with their kids and have a serious discussion with them about what career they want to pursue.”

It’s a talk, Messer said, that should be done in the seventh or eighth grade so their high school class selections can help them gain entrance into either a vocation school or a four-year college they need to get to where they want to go.

It also would allow their students to explore the career they are interested in either through possible job shadowing or a work experience program. Messer noted there are people who often believe they are making the perfect career choice who then go to college for four or more years only to  find out when they land their “dream job” it isn’t what they really want to do.

At the same time Messer said schools need to not just emphasis the four-year college track.

“It’s important that schools offer choices that can help students beyond high school,” Messer said.

“We’re failing students if we don’t prepare them for things just besides going to a four-year college.”