'tween 12 And 20

By Dr. Robert Wallace

June 5, 2009 6 min read

'TWEEN 12 AND 20

A former principal offers advice for teens on school issues

Dr. Robert Wallace

Creators News Service

Don't let counselor dissuade you from dream job

DR. WALLACE: I'm in the 11th grade and would like to become a nurse. I talked with my school counselor to see about getting into college, but she told me that my IQ was only 101 and I should plan to do something else. I am a solid B student with good study habits. I'm really concerned. What should I do? -- Brenda, Garden Grove, Calif.

BRENDA: Your counselor could use a bit of constructive counseling. The nursing profession welcomes solid B students with good study habits. Be assured that there are many colleges and universities that will welcome students like you. Living in Southern California provides you with the opportunity to attend a superb local community college, which will be more than happy to accept you as a student. Do well and your grades and credits will transfer to any college in the nation. And that includes Harvard, Yale, Stanford and Knox.

If you decide that you don't want to continue working for your bachelor's degree but still want to work in the medical field, a counselor at the community college will provide you with an appropriate curriculum available at the school you will be attending. Keep up the good academic work -- in a few years you will be called "Nurse Brenda."

I was a principal in the Garden Grove School District. The counselors I worked with were effective professionals. I don't know how the unprofessional counselor fell through the "cracks." Many schools and colleges refuse to rely solely on IQ scores because they are sometimes considered to be unreliable.

Teen is tired of being compared to overachieving sisters

DR. WALLACE: I'm 16 and the youngest child. I've got two older sisters attending college. Both of them are on the border of brilliancy. They were straight-A students who were really well-liked by their teachers. I'm no idiot, but I don't border on brilliancy. My teachers, many of them taught my sisters, don't understand why I'm a normal B student. These teachers have accused me of being lazy, having an "I don't care" attitude and being defiant.

These accusations just aren't true. I care about my studies, do my homework and get the best grades possible. I know there's not much you can do, but since you're a former educator, maybe you can tell me why teachers always compare brothers and sisters and think they should be equal. -- Nameless, Sacramento, Calif.

NAMELESS: It's just human nature to expect a lot from the children or siblings of those who have a particular talent. Mickey Mantle was a hall of fame baseball player. When his twin sons signed their first professional baseball contract, many expected them to be as skilled as their famous father. It didn't work out that way.

There is nothing wrong with teachers expecting younger siblings to match what older brothers and sisters have achieved. However, if this doesn't occur, the teachers should discuss the reason why and then deal with reality. A teacher's prime goal should be to accept all students the way they are and take them as far as their abilities allow. Some of your teachers apparently don't see you as an individual -- with a brilliance that happens to be different from that of your sisters.

It might be a good idea for you and your parents to have a conference with your counselor to discuss your concerns.

Joining after-school activities is important

DR. WALLACE: I'm 16 and live with my parents and 11-year-old sister. My dad is an attorney and my mother is a registered nurse. Both work late and usually don't get home until after 6 p.m. My sister gets home at 3:15 p.m., and I've got to be there and watch over her until my parents get home. This means I can't participate in any after-school activities, such as pep club or Spanish club. I feel like I'm missing out on an important part of my education.

I love my sister, but I don't like playing baby sitter every day at the expense of after-school fun. I complain, but my parents don't listen. They say I'm being selfish. Do you think so? --Nameless, Ontario, Calif.

NAMELESS: We're all called on at times to make a sacrifice for the good of our family, but I don't think that's the issue here. You're being asked to give up a whole dimension of your life in order to provide after-school care for your sister. Your parents should be able to afford to hire a trusted adult to watch your sister until they get home. This would allow you to round out your education (and simply enjoy being a teenager) with after-school activities.

Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. E-mail him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

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