Here's the question that applicants will be asked to answer, according to guidelines below: My boyfriend and I had all the discussions you suggest having before deciding to have sex. When we discussed pregnancy, we agreed that if it happened we would give the baby up for adoption. Recently we had a brief pregnancy scare, which turned out to be nothing, but it forced us back to that earlier conversation. This time I told him that I didn't want to give the baby up, and he told me that I was betraying him and that he wouldn't stay with me. Even after I realized I wasn't pregnant, this issue has divided us. Now I don't know what to do.
Dr. Wes: It's time again for the annual Double Take essay contest to determine my student co-author for next year. This time around, there's a special bonus for the winner: The Family Therapy Institute Midwest and Central National Bank have put together a scholarship fund of at least $1,100 for the co-author's freshman year in college. If other individuals, organizations or businesses wish to contribute to the fund, they can contact me for further information. The scholarship is payable to any college or technical school, half in the fall and half in the spring of the student's first year. The fund cannot be released for any other purpose (sorry, no down payments on a Mustang). More valuable than the scholarship is the fact that authorship looks great on your resume and college applications, especially if you're interested in journalism.
The qualifications for the Double Take student author are as follows:
¢ Must be a 2007-08 senior or exceptional junior at a Douglas County area high school. We've had two students from Free State and one from Lawrence High so far.
¢ Commitment of one year, from August 2007 until summer 2008.
¢ Skilled writer for class projects or the school newspaper.
¢ Maturity and sensibility. It's fine to make mistakes over 17 years of living. It even generates empathy for those who write to us. However, kids currently caught up in serious drinking, drugs, abusive relationships, etc., will have a hard time being credible.
¢ Have opinions and be willing to share them, but open-minded to the problems of adolescence. Extreme views, be they liberal or conservative, do not fit well with this format or demographic. The author will be asked to develop topics of his or her own interest at least six to 10 times per year, depending on the flow of letters.
¢ Able to work as a team over the Internet. Through the years, we've developed an online system for writing the column that works well.
¢ Able to get the job done. This can be a bit grueling at times, especially the second semester. You have to churn out one 350-word column a week by Friday, including revisions, about 50 weeks out of the year.
¢ Have agreeable parents. The folks must agree to allow their child to write the column. This is a high-profile and occasionally controversial job. Parents should review previous columns if they have any qualms.
John: Although this job pays less than minimum wage, it offers a substantial benefits package. The column will give you a rare opportunity to help real people with their problems and become a better writer along the way. The first-hand journalism experience will give you an edge on scholarships and college writing, and virtually all jobs require the interpersonal skills this gig nourishes. The column also has considerable clout attached, making for some fun conversations at your next party.
Now the bad news. The column takes considerably more work than is immediately apparent, and there's no waffling with deadlines. Often the subject will not immediately inspire you, at which point your best bet is to bang your head against the keyboard until the words come together into something acceptable. We often delve into specialized topics, meaning that you'll have to research in order to maintain an all-knowing facade. Even when you do quality work, there still will be hard-nosed critics ready to tear it apart.
As I wind down over the next five months, I suppose my feelings could be described as a microscopic portion of the sorrow I eventually will feel when my future daughter finds her husband. I've done my best to take care of this column during the year, and I've become quite attached to it. Don't take it personally if I ask for a dowry. Now we need someone who can commit to this column even if the subject isn't exciting or schoolwork is getting rough. Try to be thorough and yet concise, sensitive and yet direct. We know bull-puckey when we see it, so please make sure to write your real opinions and not what you think we want to hear. Honest advice is our job - our passion - and we need someone who can share in that mission.
The challenge question: My boyfriend and I had all the discussions you suggest having before deciding to have sex. When we discussed pregnancy, we agreed that if it happened we would give the baby up for adoption. Recently we had a brief pregnancy scare, which turned out to be nothing, but it forced us back to that earlier conversation. This time I told him that I didn't want to give the baby up, and he told me that I was betraying him and that he wouldn't stay with me. Even after I realized I wasn't pregnant, this issue has divided us. Now I don't know what to do.
Next week: A mom's teenage son is dating an older woman. She doesn't approve.
- Dr. Wes Crenshaw is a board-certified family psychologist and director of the Family Therapy Institute Midwest. John Murray is a Free State High School senior. Opinions and advice given here are not meant as a substitute for psychological evaluation or therapy services. Send your questions about adolescent issues to firstname.lastname@example.org. All correspondence is strictly confidential.
Submit a 400-word essay responding to the challenge question at the end of the column. Offer your best advice on how the letter-writer should deal with her problem. Consider all sides of the issue. Good answers may not be obvious ones.Paste your essay into an e-mail and send it to email@example.com or mail it to 2601 W. Sixth St., STE C, Lawrence 66049, ATTN: Wes Crenshaw (Double Take). I will paste it into a document without your name. This year, I will submit the essays (without names) to the past three columnists and ask them to rate each separately.The top five will be matched with their e-mails, and those writers will be contacted for an interview at my office. We will select a winner and a runner-up and publish both essays in a future column - tentatively May 8, depending on response. If the winner cannot complete his or her term, the runner-up will be selected and will receive the scholarship. Submission of an essay releases the Journal- World to publish it.Do your own work. Plagiarism is against the law. The top entries will be searched on the Internet to be sure they are original.