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There is a vital discussion that needs to take place about the American education system. The Young Atlas team believes strongly, that many schools need to update their curriculum’s. The rise of innovative technology creates a need for schools to better prepare our youth for new careers and completely different opportunities than before. The Young Atlas team had the opportunity to have an insightful conversation about this topic with Amber Peters aka Mizz P. who is the founder and CEO of On Track For College. Mizz P came on the Young Atlas radar during an accelerator program Kai, (the founder of Young Atlas) was taking called Communitas Ventures. The Communitas America program is an incredible ecosystem that helps entrepreneurs network, build a solid business plan, and learn how to positively impact their community. Communitas Ventures has an accelerator program approaching for female entrepreneurs.

We HIGHLY RECOMMEND FEMALE ENTREPRENEURS TO APPLY! The deadline for the application is July 31st, here is a link to apply: 

https://gust.com/programs/communitas-ventures-women-s-edition

Now lets get back on track with Mizz P. : 

Young Atlas: Tell me how/why you wanted to get involved in the education system? 

Mizz P. : It started when I was 17 years old. I didn’t feel like I had enough support to get to the next level. I was constantly trying to find resources that would support my journey and growth. My family came from Antigua, so I am a first generation American and college student. There was not a lot of support. My mom helped where she could, but for the most part I had to make things happen on my own. When I got to college it was a whole new world. My own experience in college fueled my drive to help others who had a similar overwhelming experience. When I left college, I just kept meeting students who shared my story. There were also a larger number of students struggling to find the support from their school and local communities. So in 2015 I incorporated my business and became familiar with the various aspects of becoming an education consultant before creating my own books and worksheets that many of my students were able to benefit from. 

“Then I asked myself: How do I reach more students?” – Mizz P. 

Young Atlas: Tell me how/why you wanted to get involved in the education system? 

Mizz P. : It started when I was 17 years old. I didn’t feel like I had enough support to get to the next level. I was constantly trying to find resources that would support my journey and growth. My family came from Antigua, so I am a first generation American and college student. There was not a lot of support. My mom helped where she could, but for the most part I had to make things happen on my own. When I got to college it was a whole new world. My own experience in college fueled my drive to help others who had a similar overwhelming experience. When I left college, I just kept meeting students who shared my story. There were also a larger number of students struggling to find the support from their school and local communities. So in 2015 I incorporated my business and became familiar with the various aspects of becoming an education consultant before creating my own books and worksheets that many of my students were able to benefit from. 

“Then I asked myself: How do I reach more students?” – Mizz P. 

Mizz P. : Technology was the first thing I thought of. I soon realized there were a number of schools that would love to have the support of tech, and that is where the On Track for College app started. The app has since opened a lot of doors. I have a Queens Library partnership that has been very helpful in terms of getting my services to schools in Queens and I have successfully converted many of their students into app users. Through this process I realized that planning for life and college does not have to be such a headache. It can be a fun experience, if you have the proper resources and support in place! 

Young Atlas: What kind of support are students lacking before college? 

Mizz P. : Building a team is important. Most school counselors are completely overwhelmed. The ratio of school counselors to students is 1:250 in the United States. That’s nuts! But, schools can utilize their teachers to help spread that message about college and career to reach more students. It’s also important for students to have support from friends or family members who have already gone through the college process. Students need to also utilize: web resources, community programs, as well as family and friends.

Young Atlas: Here at Young Atlas we are major advocates for vocational training being implemented during high school. Due to the high price of college we think it is only fair, that when a student graduates high school they have a useful skill or certificate that grants them the opportunity to earn a living outside of college. What are your thoughts on vocational training in the education system? 

Mizz P. : I think, in New York City especially, we set up vocational training programs for “failures”. Most students who have disabilities are tracked for vocational training where the average students would not be. That says a lot! There are tons of young people that have skill sets that can be cultivated to create wealth for themselves and their families. I remember when high schools use to have a course component that included: home economics, wood shop or other vocational skills and this was a crucial aspect of the curriculum. I believe vocational training is essential because we are more and more becoming a skill based economy. For example, skills like: social media, website development, or graphic design can be a major asset for students to leverage when applying for jobs. College is an expensive place to make mistakes, especially if you go to college and don’t know what you want to do. Then you become trapped because you get stuck in a career you may not like, but now you have these massive loans you have to pay back. Or even worse, you get kicked out and now you can’t go back to college because you owe all this money. We are really backwards here. 

Young Atlas: This brings up an interesting point. A lot of young adults have this false sense that they are failures, because college may simply not have been the right route for them. What are your thoughts on the psychological barriers that college can cause? 

Mizz P. : You have to make sure the young person is ready. College is a different world and we have to make sure they are mentally ready to tackle it. On the flip side we don’t teach young people that failure is okay. As an entrepreneur I have heard that saying “fail often”, because it shows you’re trying. However, for young people, when they fail it hits them super hard. Some of them may use it as fuel, but a lot of others may internalize this setback and unfortunately don’t bounce back. 

Young Atlas: What are your thoughts on adding more entrepreneurial classes in our youth’s educational curriculum? 

Mizz P. : It’s essential! When I was working with Children’s Aid Society at Opportunity Charter School, they offered a lot of entrepreneurial training. For example, they offered a Microsoft class where students can become certified in Microsoft products. We taught an entrepreneurship based curriculum where students learned what goes into building a business. I thought it was the dopest thing in the world. It taught students not only how to build a product but also how to sell themselves. I saw that this was an important skill for college, in preparation for interviews and building a college essay. I believed this was a great way for young people to hone that confidence and learn how to build something out of nothing. I also saw the importance of educating the students about their communities by asking them questions like: Can you tell me about the type of businesses in your neighborhoods? Can you identify the Black owned businesses in your neighborhood? We were in Harlem, it was important to understand how many of these business were Black and Hispanic owned and how these students can contribute to the economics of their community. I was looking to spark positive motivation so students would want to have a positive community impact. 

Motivational Story From the Class: 

I remember this one kid that kept asking me questions. He was so engaged and curious! He would tell me about Youtube videos he watched and have specific questions prepared. I will never forget, it was parent teacher conference day. His mother comes to me and says, “Who is Ms. Peters?” She says, “Can you please explain to me what you are doing in your class? My son comes home with all this money in his pocket and I have no idea where it is coming from.” The student told me he made a jump start on the class project and he was selling Debbie cakes. He would go to the store in the morning and buy 3 boxes of Debbie cakes. He realized the school was only selling chips and candies, but no Debbie cakes. He realized there would be a market for Debbie cakes, so he tried it and started selling out. He understood how to to stock up on supply. He told me, “I want to be rich and I wanted to test it out to see if it would work”, and he took out a wad of money. I told his mom not to worry. Her son got an A in the class. 

Young Atlas: If you could go back in time and give any advice to your younger self, what would it be? 

Mizz P. : My advice to my younger self would have been to do your research and know what you are signing up for. There are so many hidden rules that I did not know to look out for. Doing research on admissions guidelines and financial aid would have saved me money and a headache in the long run. 

Young Atlas: Since you are so involved in the education system and are also a millennial entrepreneur, what are some of the differences you see between the generations? Do you think they are better off then millennials or even our parents? 

Mizz P. : It’s a gimme gotcha. I feel like in some ways they are better positioned because they have certain resources, like the internet. However, I think we were taught how to critically think our way through life better. For example, we are able to leverage technology where they are just consuming technology. For older generations the cost of living was not as crazy as it is now. For example, most millennials need a roommate or live with family, because the rent is so high. There are definitely pros and cons for both.

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