DESOTO COUNTY, MS (abc24.com) - What do you want to be when you grow up? Educators in Mississippi have a certain age kids should be able to answer that question, and it's a bit earlier than you might think. Starting this year, 8th graders in every middle school in Mississippi will have picked a career path.
"I ask my kids all the time what they want to be. My oldest, my seven year old, she wants to be a doctor and a cheerleader," Luna Fisher told abc24.com.
By the time Fisher's three kids turn 13, their teacher will ask them that question and it's all a part of the state's new Pathways to Success program.
"I think it would be really hard to figure out what I would want to be," said mom Kate Winters. "But I think if they gave me a list and I could pick, I'd probably learn more."
Every Mississippi 8th grader will be asked which subjects and activities they like, and what words they'd use to describe themselves. Students will then pick from sixteen different career paths based on their answers, everything from architecture and construction to finance to hospitality and tourism. Fisher likes the idea, but doesn't know if she'd have been able to decide as an eighth grader.
"What I thought I wanted to do in eighth grade is very different than what I'm doing now," Fisher told abc24.com. "I was a social worker. That was something I didn't even realize I wanted to do until maybe a year before I graduated from undergrad. So I was in my 20's before I figured that out."
She wants her kids to have the freedom to be whatever they want.
"To try a little bit of everything. I think that's best way to go and best way to become well rounded individual," said Fisher.
But she and other moms agree the program's a good way to focus on the future.
"My kids don't even think about it," Stephanie Eckles told abc24.com. "I honestly myself never thought about it until it was too late. So maybe it is a good idea for them to start early."
Kids can change career paths at any time. The program's main goal is to get students to think early about how the choices they make, even as middle schoolers, will affect what kind of college they get into and ultimately what jobs they can land.