Posted in This is real life.

College for Gangstas.

This week was College Week in my district, as all of my fbook friends are well aware, thanks to my posting of Mizzou-themed outfits for each day of the week.


Presh, I know.

That one was my favorite. Even though – or perhaps because – I received a tutorial on how to best wear my scarf from my yearbook kiddos before the pictures we took that day.

Of course, I’ve managed to work college into all of my lessons thus far.

Well, college of a sort.

On Monday, we talked about all the different options for post-high school education and their advantages. Tuesday, we discussed what they kiddos would want to study if they went to college RIGHT NOW. Wednesday was the day for asking “What is the best reason to consider college as an option?” Trust me, there were some interesting answers there. Today, we tackled the most intimidating part of applying/going to college in the future.

Unsurprisingly, my kids said “being too stupid.” I also got a few “getting in” and – my personal favorite – “having to hang out with stupid nerds all the time.”

Yep. That was, in case you weren’t sure, aimed directly at me. All in good fun, of course.

Tomorrow they’re going to love it, though, because our discussion topic will be: “Name a legitimate scenario of when going to college is a TERRIBLE idea.”

Yep. I’m serious.

See, here’s the thing: I’m realistic with my kids about college and all post-high school education. I tell them that college rocked my socks off, that my best stories I can’t tell them until they’re older (so obviously they should invite me to their graduation parties) and that I would pay ten times what I owe in student loans to have that experience if I had to. But I also tell them that it was so awesome because it was the right path for me. I show them pictures and tell them stories about real people I know who didn’t go to college…and make more money than me. More than I’ll ever make, really. I tell them about my friends who decided to go to college for business – even though they didn’t have to after trade school – so that they can run their own shop or restaurant later.

I tell them the truth about my own intended career: that about a third of all the most famous journalists didn’t go to college, they worked their way up through connections and experiences. But I went to college to be a journalist, realized it wasn’t for me, and now I’m happy as their cray-cray teacher.

You can see in their little middle school faces that they’ve never had anyone talk about college quite like this before: as something very real and not just a goal that’s impossible to reach or something sacred that they might be lucky to be a part of one day. I show them that it’s just one step on the path to their adult life, but it’s not the end-all, be-all. And it’s not the only step that they can take. It’s also not always the right path, especially if they aren’t interested in seeing what’s around the bend. They can be happy in a traditional college, or happy somewhere else, and I tell them that all I want is for them to be happy with their choice in life.

At the end of my second period today, one of my students came to my desk as I was rushing to a meeting and stopped me by asking, “Miss, is there a college for gangstas like me?”

Don’t laugh too hard, he was serious.

I didn’t really have time to address it then, so I just said, “Yes, and if they’ll let someone lame like me in, I’ll help you study. I promise.”

He kind of laughed as we walked out, but before he headed down the seventh grade hallway, I stopped and told him “I would have loved being in class with a kid like you in college – trust me. You’ll love it if you go.”

He seemed satisfied for the time being (and I think he believed me because he blushed a little) but clearly I need to address the stereotype of colleges only being for brainy people. I spend all year trying to convince my baby children that they’re smart, they just need to apply themselves, but you can see that they don’t really know what college is truly about. So every year I try to give them a real world picture of how they can plan for the future – and what to expect with each choice that’s in front of them.

Knowledge is power and all that jazz.

Tomorrow is our last day this year for College Week, which makes me sad. Why? Because I won’t have a legit excuse to talk about how awesome college was. But instead of mourning the loss, I’ve decided that my students are going to integrate my stories and pictures from college into their study of poetry by retelling one of my collegiate tales in verse. Or using a photo to inspire a lyric poem. I’m good either way, really.

And I’m super-pumped to do my own version of show-and-tell tomorrow about MIZZOU.

Mizzou tee? Check.
Photos of me in the snow in a formal dress? Check.
Magazine I helped redesign for my capstone? Check.
Graduation photo? Check.
Old textbooks I loved so much I kept? Check.
Photos of my drinking with my professors? Uhhh…maybe I should leave that one at home…damn.



We seek to learn, and when academics do not present the answers, we look inside our own beautiful imaginations for the key.

One thought on “College for Gangstas.

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