WASHINGTON — First lady Michelle Obama urged high school students on Wednesday to think about their career goals and the job market before deciding what type of education to pursue.
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Obama was speaking at Ballou High School in southeast Washington as part of a Women’s History Month mentoring program. Responding to a question from a student about what she would tell a teen mom who wants to go to college, the first lady said she would tell the teenager “good for you.” But she also told students they needed to have a plan and think about what kind of job training they need for the career they want.
“College is no joke because it is so expensive,” Obama said during a question-and-answer session with about 30 students.
The president’s wife said that she took out loans to go to a private college, Princeton University, but she knew there was “probably a job waiting” when she finished.
Obama said students these days need to worry more about the job market but also need to be prepared to take advantage of opportunities by not messing around in school.
She said her 12-year-old daughter is already thinking about what classes she needs to take and how to get into the best schools.
“Get it together now,” she urged students.
Later Wednesday the first lady hosted a dinner at the White House as part of the mentoring program where high school girls got to dine with guest mentors — celebrities and successful women including actresses Geena Davis and Hilary Swank, astronaut Ellen Ochoa and Grammy-nominated songwriter Ledisi.
The first lady urged the kids to understand that all the women present achieved their success through hard work and help from others. “None of us here were handed anything,” the first lady said. “All of these women here earned every single honor they have.”
The first lady has hosted several previous events with high school kids and guest mentors, including one in Denver and one in Detroit, and has spoken out about getting young people to achieve.