Yesterday I had the pleasure of working with my crew in the field on an absolutely gorgeous day. We probably set 25 to 30 tons of rock while rebuilding a problem retaining wall for my church.It was a blast!
I came home after a long 10 hours of physical labor, exhausted and dirty, but with a grin from ear to ear on my face! I don't get in the field often but when I do, I get a tangible sense of accomplishment that's hard to come by "pushing paper" around in the office. We came, we destroyed (woohoo!), we rebuilt, and we left! At one point a car pulled over and the driver shouted "God I'd love to have your job!" I thought that was cool until I started to think about it.
Would he be cool with his son or daughter having my job?!
Two of the guys I worked with yesterday were college kids where this job will probably only be a stop along their journey to a career in an office. "Probably" being the key word.
One of the kids who worked for us last summer professed how desperate he was to get back in the field using his hands again. "I absolutely hate sitting at a desk," he lamented. Yet he's in school pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering.
My best friend from College, Michael Kurylo, earned a degree in Industrial Design. He spent the next 12 years sitting in front of a computer, all day long every day, year after year working as a CAD Engineer. As he tells it the only time his work got recognized was when he made a mistake!
That was before he pursued a career path outside working in the world of ponds. Today he gets recognized almost every day for what he just created, and more often than not, that recognition comes with the offer of a beer.
Working outside though, comes with a whole other set of problems those of us who work in an office don't have to contend with. I called Mike on a cold, wet and otherwise miserable spring day right after he started on his new career path to check in on him and give him a little ribbing about having to work in such inclement weather. He famously replied ... "The worst day in the field is better than the best day in the office!"
Not every kid is college material. I certainly wasn't. I earned my degree only because that was the path society had outlined for one to follow to achieve success. I was too programmed to question it back then. Now though, life has empowered me to shout at the top of my lungs that success in life has little or nothing to do with whether you do or don't go to college!
Of course most people already know success in life doesn't come from simply getting a degree. However, sadly, nobody talks about what they've observed themselves in the real world out of fear they may dissuade our youth from achieving a higher education. The importance of a college degree has never been more unimportant, at least in regards to succeeding in life.
So why is it still taboo to discuss legitimate opportunities that exist that don't entail earning an expensive degree?! By not even having the discussion about alternative options to a high-cost degree we are costing our kids, us, and ultimately our society a ton!
Schools are filled with kids going through the motions of getting a degree because "that's what their parents and society think they should do." And many of those young and impressionable adults who are only going through the prescribed motions of earning a degree end up making lattes for a living. There's nothing wrong with being a barista. A barista with 100k in college debt though is a whole other story and shockingly not uncommon!
I hate negative posts and being negative in general. But it does make me sick to my stomach that kids have been led to believe a college education is the only way to achieve success.
If being happy constitutes the baseline of success I can assure you of one thing. I wasn't the only one leaving that job site grinning ear to ear yesterday.Just some food for thought, mom and dad.