While finishing up in the kitchen last night, “putting the house away” I like to call it, our family was watching America’s Funniest Videos (AFV). It’s a Sunday Night tradition. Even during football season. During a commercial break, Husband flipped over to 60 Minutes. I don’t know why. I can’t recall that ever had happened before. But when he flipped, there were Bill and Melinda Gates challenging America’s wealthiest to give away half of their fortunes to a charity of their choice. Then Mrs. Gates started to speak about their charities.

I was half-way tuned in and not at all interested, but this single line caught me, “We prepare less than one-third of all children for college.” And I started getting worked up. Yes, I let things like this affect me. Why? Well, let’s be honest. A lot of folks take whatever is posted on such gossip mags as truth. And I feel like I need to help correct this truth.

Not all people should go to college. By telling all children that the only road to success is a four-year degree we are setting up the vast majority of people for failure. Let people do what they are innately created to do. Letter carriers do not need four-year degrees. Butchers do not need four-year degrees. Truck drivers do not need four-year degrees. And yet people who do these critical jobs can be every bit as successful and happy as the engineer down the street.
I own an SAT Prep company. For thirteen years now, I’ve worked with more kids that had no desire to go to college than kids who were driven to go to college. I think about some of those students from time to time. Some of them, from my early years teaching, are still in college and not because they’re working on an advanced degree. But because they feel pressure to continue to attend, albeit off and on, because of the “required road to success” they are burdened with from family and twelve years of indoctrination.

Today I am not going to go into the benefit of the state to submit as many students as possible to college after 12 years of compulsory indoctrination. In short, it only furthers the state’s cause to wind warp students during a time which is consider “the real world” and “by choice” so that students searching for truth become adults spewing government necessity. That’s not my point today.

My point today is to encourage students to truly pursue what is of interest to them. If it’s kite-building, then build kites! Perhaps that is a sign of an engineer. Or a crop duster. If the only job your teenager wants is babysitting at $5 an hour when his friends are out making $8 an hour on a construction crew, then let him babysit. Maybe it’s a sign he’ll be a great nurse. Or a great corporate manager. You do not know. And it is not your decision. Let your children direct themselves as they grow into working. And let them work. A good work ethic goes further than any education.

Of course, we must all be our children’s guiding lights. We should guide them to follow God, independently care for themselves, do for others. And of course, they’ll make mistakes (and flat out wrongs). But the good and bad choices are theirs to make. As a parent, I am far more concerned with the state of my children’s hearts than the state of their wallets, size of their houses, and the hood ornaments on their cars. Those are their choices and responsibilities.

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