College prep for 10-year-olds

SUNDAY SNAPSHOTS

Author: Barbara Greenfeld...

February 02, 1997|By Lisa Pollak

College prep for 10-year-olds; Author: Barbara Greenfeld has 0) written an almanac about college for kids. Scaring them isn't the idea; giving them a road map to their dreams is.

Your spunky neighborhood 10-year-old tells you he's thinking of attending Stanford University. A prestigious school, he tells you, with an excellent athletic department and a full complement of degree programs. Maybe he'll even get a scholarship, or a work-study job, to support himself.

Do you:

A) Wish the boy luck, adding that goals and aspirations are admirable at any age.

B) Worry. This child obviously isn't spending enough time watching television and playing basketball.

If you answered A, you'll probably like the idea of "The Kids' College Almanac: A First Look at College" (Gerson Publishing, $16.95), a guide for kids 10 to 14. One of its authors is Columbia resident Barbara Greenfeld, director of admissions and advising at Howard County Community College.

"In elementary school, kids are thinking about what they want to be and do in the future," says Greenfeld, who wrote the book with her New Jersey-based brother and publisher, Robert Weinstein. "It's good for them to know what's involved, and that higher education, if you want it, is attainable."

And if you answered B? Maybe you suffer from what Greenfeld calls "adult prejudice," the idea that college isn't something young people should be thinking about. After all, she notes, you probably wouldn't raise an eyebrow if that same 10-year-old said he wanted to be an astronaut, a brain surgeon or a star quarterback for the Green Bay Packers. So what's the matter, Greenfeld asks, with giving kids a road map to the future? Kids are dreamers, and college is how many of them will achieve their dreams.

"We're not trying to hurt anybody," says Greenfeld, who drew on her experiences as a teacher, college administrator and disabilities specialist to write this easy-to-read, comprehensive guide. (Chapter subtitles include "The College Calendar," "Financial Aid at Four-Year Colleges" and "Your Courses Before College.")

"All we're saying is some kids have an interest in the future. No one has to read this book or even be told about it. But if we can talk to kids about AIDS, sex, drugs and gangs, why not college? Why not something positive?" The almanac even includes a disclaimer in the foreword, saying it's not intended to pressure kids: "Our primary goals," write the authors, "are to demystify college and to answer the kinds of questions young people think about at this age."

Greenfeld found herself wishing for such a book when developing "College Day" programs for grade-school students at her community college. She says kids 10 to 14 are often curious about college and full of sophisticated questions. The almanac, which was written in about nine months, answers the questions in kid-level language.

It is also packed with attention-grabbing blurbs and graphics, including lists of celebrities and their alma maters; Internet addresses for college home pages; percentages of freshmen who receive financial aid at various schools; and a chart of how many years of college are required for different careers.

Greenfeld says she's particularly proud of the almanac's chapters on college costs and the needs of special populations, as well as the book's emphasis on the attributes of lesser-known schools -- so that kids know there's more to life than Harvard and Stanford. And in a concluding chapter, Greenfeld addresses the spunky 10-year-olds of the world with what she feels is one of the book's most important messages:

"If you truly want to go to college, you can go and you will go. Do not let anyone tell you that you cannot go to college, no matter what reason they give you."

Say you're having a craving for some crab cakes or a steak, but also hunger for a glimpse into your future. Around here, there's probably only one restaurant with surf, turf and psychic readings on its menu: the Palmer House on Eutaw Street.

The Palmer House has been in business for 50 years and has the pictures to prove it. Snapshots of celebrities, including Sophia Lauren, Lucille Ball and a host of politicos, decorate its brick walls.

While some of the famous faces have come for a meal, many others, says Billy Joe Edmondson, a 65-year-old psychic who has been with the Palmer House for 40 years, have come for his readings -- "if they were in town for a show at some place like the Morris Mechanic Theatre, or for a political reason."

His clientele are, he says, "sound and stable people." Lawyers, doctors and other professionals come for readings on a regular basis, about once every two to three months. Anyone coming in more often, he says, needs more help than he can provide.

Edmondson, who was orphaned and shuffled through the foster care system in Maryland, says he received the first of his visions at the age of 6, though he didn't begin to comprehend their meanings until he was 8.

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