Do you remember being a teen? Being in high school and trying to keep up with school work, sports, friends, and all the while thinking, What next? And not just thinking it, being bombarded by it! My boys have been getting junk mail from colleges for at least a year now and what’s the first question everyone asks…what are you doing after high school? Or, more specifically, people usually ask, Where are you going to school after high school?
It’s not necessarily a bad question. Well, maybe it is. At least to some kids it is. It puts a lot of pressure on these young people and if they are already dealing with anxiety or depression, it can overwhelm them to think about college. Should they even know at 16, 17, 18? How many of us absolutely knew what we wanted to do with our lives at 18 and actually stuck with it?
I think the better questions would be, what interests you? What do you want to learn more about? What kind of jobs are out there?
As my two oldest have hit 18 and have a year of high school left, I’ve seen this first hand. It causes ME anxiety when people ask. I can’t imagine what it does for them! I realize that there is a next step in life after high school, but when did we get to this point that it has to look the same for everyone? Why does it seem as though four year college is our only “good” option?
Since my hubby works with contractors everyday, we see the shortage first hand in the trades. Electricians and plumbers have practically begged our boys to come work for them and learn the trade. Contractors can’t find good employees to hire that want to stick with the job. Homeowners are waiting months for someone to come fix their sink or remodel their bathroom. Companies can’t get their products to the store in a timely manner because they are short drivers. The list goes on.
Let’s face it, not everyone is cut out for a trade job. But, not everyone should go to a four year college either, especially if it’s just because it’s what everyone else is doing. There’s not really a guarantee that you’ll make more money or be more secure, just because you went to college. Most of that comes down to budgeting and doing a good job at the job you’re given.
I point this all out because I’ve been thinking so much about how different my twin boys are. They always have been so different. Not just different, polar opposites really. One is an extreme extrovert, the other a homebody introvert. One thinks, the others is impulsive. One wants to pursue college, the other isn’t interested.
Last year one went to public school and the other stayed home. This year looks even different. And, guess what? They are both so happy with the path laid out for them.
One is taking PSEO classes with the hope of continuing there next year full time and getting a double major from the community college, then going on to complete an engineering degree at a four year college. The other is working full time this year instead of doing traditional schooling. He’s working construction and gets up happily everyday to go to his job. And he’s learning a ton, just like his brother. It just looks very, very different.
And that’s okay. It shouldn’t look the same for everyone, because everyone, and I mean everyone, is unique.
I’ll tell you something else. I am just as proud of both of them. I’m so proud of Samuel for knowing what he wants to pursue and taking a huge step by trying PSEO classes. I’m proud of him for studying hard, even with dyslexia that slows him way down. I’m proud of him for driving an hour one way twice a week for classes and laying out his homework each day so he stays on top of it all.
I’m also so proud of Isaiah. He made a really, really hard choice this summer by deciding to work full time this year. He made the good choice, even though it wasn’t the first choice. I’m proud of him for being mature enough to see what would be best for him. I’m so proud of him for lining an awesome job up for himself and getting up every morning very early, making a lunch, and getting out the door. I’m proud of him for making his boss happy and working hard at whatever job he’s given.
We need to see our kids as they are: unique individuals each with amazing gifts that no one else possesses. People who have a purpose and future, who can make a difference to those around them. People who each have their own path. We need to be proud of them when they pursue that path and happy that it isn’t cookie cutter!
I’m not putting down college at all. I hope you see that. For some it’s a great option. It’s just not the only option. There are lots of good options out there and we have to be sure we don’t put our kids in a box, but really dig into what their path should be. And, hopefully, that path isn’t like anyone else’s. Hopefully it’s just right for them.