EDUCATION Brain Wreck Ahead

Article excerpt

It isn't unusual for students to be undecided about a career as a college freshman or a sophomore.

But it will be unusual soon for all ninth-graders in Minneapolis not to have chosen a career path -- even though many probably have no clue on a career right now and might change their minds many times over before and during college.

In Minneapolis, however, this early determination isn't just encouraged. Schools require it. Similar programs -- called "Small Learning Communities" -- are being introduced in Chicago, Denver and Boston.

Student goals are important. Focus is necessary for any kind of achievement. But planning can be taken to the extreme, and we think this concept is headed for some serious re-evaluation.

Under this new concept, the career path a student chooses determines the school and classes he will attend. Participating schools specialize in various career fields and the student gets a firsthand look at actual work settings and even businesses.

Getting into these specialties typically requires teacher recommendations, writing samples and certain grade point averages or test scores. …