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Entries in College (2)


The Importance of Education

This post promotes education, with a specific emphasis on post-secondary (college) education.  I have particular passion on this topic as two young people I know are missing out on an opportunity.  There are people where college is not needed, and trade school (or other) is more appropriate.  This post also won’t address/promote the strangling amount of debt some students will wrack up in college.  There are plenty of cost effective colleges around, and I would encourage attending a college in a manner where crushing debt is not accumulated.

Last year I sat across a table from a young man who was contemplating getting into his family restaurant business.  He was attending college to learn business.  He had decided to “take a semester off” to help in the business.

We spoke at length on the importance of education, and how he needed a business foundation to best equip him for the business.  He agreed to re-enroll, and not take off a semester.

Sadly, he didn’t do it.  A year later?  He’s waiting tables in the family business. 

I was looking for college pictures to post in the blog, and came across this from my alma mater.  Think of the experiences the young people in this post are missing.

Is this the best help he could give the business?  Is this propelling him to the top of the family empire?

I’d say not.  He may still end up in the family business, and I’d submit he’s shortchanging his contribution.

About a year ago I went to a new clothes store, and was taken by the personable and genuine nature of a sales guy we’ll call Nathan.  He was in college, and this was a part time job.  I mentioned how impressed I was to the store manager, and she agreed with me.  “I am encouraging Nathan to continue his schooling, as there is so much more he can learn and offer.”

Nathan has done an exceptional job of making me feel special….like texting me for a sale, encouraging me to drop in, and giving honest feedback on some of my clothing selections.  The manager has moved on to another company, and Nathan is still selling clothes.

When buying some clothing yesterday, I asked Nathan how his school was going.  “I’m taking a semester off.”  It turns out young Nathan hadn’t kept his grades at a satisfactory level. 

While truly none of my business, I was crushed.  Here is a young person full of potential who (by their actions) is choosing to sell clothes over advancement.  It occurred to me I was enabling him.  I sought him out when shopping, and he was getting commissions on my purchases.  Maybe the “easy money” was too easy.

So I found someone else to help me, someone else to earn the commission.

And the someone else, we’ll call Linda, was equally dismayed.  “I was studying Nursing at Ohio State and left with six credit hours to go.  It is the one regret I have in life.”

Linda and I then cornered Nathan.  Nathan promised he was taking off one semester, and then offered how he was saving money for a car….he didn’t like the one he was borrowing.

Young Nathan….you have a set of wheels.  You can get around.

By completing your schooling, you are better equipped to grow and do more in your life.  You are better positioned for your 40s and your peak earning years.

I wish there was a way for me to show him a film of his life if he completes college, and if he doesn’t.

Again, I recognize everyone isn’t destined for college.  There is nothing wrong with tradeschool.  And crushing debt isn’t useful to anyone.  And I know it can be hard for some individuals and families to swing education.  And yes, there are exceptions; Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard.

What I am criticizing is young people with potential not making an investment in themselves.  Their taking a semester off puts some money in their pockets, and doesn’t position themselves for the future.

I believe for many college is a stepping stone to a better future.  It is an investment in their future.

What do you think?



When you come home from college...

Dear <fill in the blank>,

I am very happy you have gone to college.  College was very fun for a couple reasons; you learn how to learn and you fully develop as a person.

It really is a 50:50 proposition.  I hope you spend as much time on social as academic activities.  The friendships you forge in college will last you a lifetime.  Strike the balance for your well rounded development.

When you are at college, you are out of sight and not out of mind.  While I may not know where you are every minute, I know you are at your job.  I experimented in college, and am sure you will too.  Please be careful.

When you come home on break, please let me know what you are doing just so I don’t worry.

You see, when you are away at college your extended family of friends (be it other academic friends, fraternal friends, club friends, sport friends) keep an eye out for you.

When you are home, I want to know what you are doing.  You may think this is controlling, and let me explain it’s not.

If you are going to spend a night at a friend’s, let me know so I don’t worry.  If you are going to be really late, let me know so I don’t worry.

I’m not looking for a moment by moment accounting.  In fact, far from it.  You have your life to lead.  I just want to know you are safe.

It may seem odd, but I had an experience like this a number of years ago.  I had relocated to New England, and due to the school schedule you were going to follow a month or two later.  Good friends insisted I stay with them.  On my first night, I worked a little later and got a call from my friends, “Are you coming home?  We’re holding dinner for you.” 

We hadn’t talked about dinner, and I felt terrible about impacting the family dinner they had so kindly prepared.

Had I just let them know I’d be working late, they would have known.  Obviously, they were not controlling me.  Quite the contrary, they were being nice to me.

Just let me know generally what you are doing so everyone is clear on expectations.  It’s great having you home.

Love, Dad.