Alana has edged into her thirties now, I think. Her eldest child attends a middle school where I once worked. The family’s first language is Polish which is the language mostly spoken in the home, though I’m sure the kids lapse into English. Alana has been taking community college courses for a few years. She intended to be an ultrasound technician but needed various remedial courses such as algebra first. She also took the ultrasound prerequisites. Unfortunately, there are limited slots in the ultrasound program and those slots are first allocated to residents of the county. She lives in a northern county without an ultrasound program and has been driving an hour south to school. Alana can’t get into the program she wants, despite her remedial and preparatory work.
She’s studying medical coding now. Thanks to an Obama initiative, all medical records are supposed to go online and her work prospects are very good. Coding won’t pay nearly as well as her original goal, though, and she had to take about a year of now-unnecessary coursework while raising three children and managing her household. Her husband’s a trucker and a great guy, but trucker’s wives often steer the ship alone.
She should have been warned about her prospects for getting into that ultrasound program. She should have had more help in making her choices. We are telling all these students they need to go to college, but who is helping them when they take our advice? Colleges too often do a poor job of helping 1st generation college-attendees to negotiate the path to college success.