It’s time to take a little trip down memory lane.
It was the early part of this decade. 17 year old Financial Uproar was in his last year of high school. He had great friends, a decent part time job, okay marks in school (mostly because I was bored out of my tree) and little to no chance of ever getting a girl to touch him. And just like most high school kids, he was struggling to find the right career.
Desperate for a solution, he decided to make an appointment with the guidance counselor. The meeting started off with Mrs. Bell asking some of the usual standard questions. What do you like to do? What are you good at?
I narrowed it down to two things. I was interested in and fairly competent and both business and sports. Thanks to my Dad’s financial teachings, I had absolutely nailed the small part of math class that was personal finance related. Even at that young age, business just made sense to me. It was just so logical. And like most guys, I enjoyed Phys-Ed and couldn’t think of anything cooler than working with sports.
How did the counselor respond? Did she encourage me to perhaps start my own business? Did she suggest working at something related to sports, perhaps something in media or as a writer? Did she encourage me to go start at the bottom of an organization I would be interested in and work my way up? Nope.
Instead she gave me two paths. The first was to go to university and take a bachelor’s degree in commerce. That’s right, she didn’t suggest getting an MBA, or becoming an economist or any sort of apprenticeship program. She didn’t suggest becoming an entrepreneur. She told me to go to university. As far as she was concerned there was no other option.
The other path was becoming a Phys-Ed teacher. I thought that would be cool for all of 20 minutes, until I saw the amount of crap the teacher dealt with every gym class.
What’s the point of this story? I think teachers are much too quick to suggest a student go to university and take the academic route. We can all list scores of successful people who never went to college, or who dropped out prior to completing their degree. That’s not saying that going is a bad idea, I just don’t like the way it’s presented to kids.
It’s never actually spoken, but the implied message given to teens by their teachers is one of doom and gloom if they don’t pursue higher education. Teachers typically have a great deal of motivation to recommend this path. They’re successful because they took that path. If teachers can get a new generation of students to take the academic route, the entire system becomes self perpetual. All one has to do is look at the average incomes for high school grads vs. people who have more education.
The system’s main downfall is the pushing of students who are not suitable for academics into university courses simply because that’s where they feel the money and success will be. Rather than presenting university degrees as the ticket to the gravy train, teachers should tell students that a degree from a post secondary institution is simply the ticket to get to where they want to be.