Three Simple Rules Poor Teens Should Follow to Join the Middle Class

Extracted from the Brookings article:

Policy aimed at promoting economic opportunity for poor children must be framed within three stark realities. First, many poor children come from families that do not give them the kind of support that middle-class children get from their families. Second, as a result, these children enter kindergarten far behind their more advantaged peers and, on average, never catch up and even fall further behind. Third, in addition to the education deficit, poor children are more likely to make bad decisions that lead them to drop out of school, become teen parents, join gangs and break the law.

In addition to the thousands of local and national programs that aim to help young people avoid these life-altering problems, we should figure out more ways to convince young people that their decisions will greatly influence whether they avoid poverty and enter the middle class. Let politicians, schoolteachers and administrators, community leaders, ministers and parents drill into children the message that in a free society, they enter adulthood with three major responsibilities:

  1. at least finish high school,

  2. get a full-time job and

  3. wait until age 21 to get married and have children.

I am sharing my observation from my classmates along the years. For my elementary, middle school classmates, none of them have achieved the same degree of  success as my high school classmates. Majority of high school classmates went to college and have much better success.

I have some elementary and middle school classmates who dropped out and now look like 50-year old because of tough family and economical situation along the years. They usually have children much older than mine. Some of their children did not go to college either. When I was young, their family conditions were better than mine. They lost interest in school and their parents just let them drop out.  Since China’s economy is steering toward knowledge-based, it is very difficult for them to find a great job to support  the family.

My college classmates are all over the world. One of my college roommates bought a farm and is raising cows in South Africa now. Sure, my undergraduate college is one of the best in China and all of my college classmates are working really hard to find their own success.  They value every opportunity and work hard to achieve their dream.