I had a wonderful experience a few weeks ago when one of my long-time patients came in for her routine check-up. She is now 17 years old, and I have known her since she was less than 1 year old. I asked her what her plans were after high school, and she confidently replied, “College and a career in biomedical research.” “Oh really,” I responded and inquired some more. She went on to tell me that she planned to attend Rice University where she had already spoken with one of the directors of undergraduate education, and that they have just the program she is looking for. Furthermore she said, “Rice University is very close to the Texas Medical Center, the largest medical center in the world, and this will provide me with more than adequate laboratory science opportunity and experience.”
Wow, by this point my head was spinning from our conversation. Normally, when I ask these questions to teens, I get the vague “I would like to go to this or that University because it is a pretty campus and my aunt graduated from there.” No such talk from this young woman; she knows exactly where she is heading and how to get there. She is a focused teen who knows her goals and has mapped out a plan of how to get there!
I am currently reading–and will be reviewing–a book about the Teen Years entitled The Seven Habits of a Successful Teen by Sean Covey. One of the 7 habits he encourages teens to have is to “know where they are going”: have goals, even if they are not as specific as my patient that day. I think that if parents can generate the goals conversation with their teens, listen to them, and provide guidance during this part of a teen’s life, great things can happen for their futures. More to come on this in subsequent posts.