When the ‘free sample’ guy offers you a choice between smoked turkey or honey ham, engaging in a deep conversation about future life plans is probably the last thing on his mind.
Though, with 10 people in front of me at the deli counter on a Sunday afternoon, 19 year old part-time college student and free sample dude, Sam, suddenly found himself answering questions about just that.
Our conversation started out innocently enough, discussing weightlifting and his recovery from an injury, but it quickly evolved into what his life plans are. “Are you going pursue a Bachelors degree after earning your associates?” I conversationally inquired. “I intend to earn two degrees,” he announced. Not one to hold back (go figure) I quickly retorted, “Why the hell would you need two degrees!?!” He wasn’t expecting that heated comeback, but much to his credit he engaged me in a conversation around one of my hot button topics…college.
Turns out his aunt received two degrees, first earning a bachelor’s degree in business and then returning to school to study nursing before landing a great paying job. She was and is his inspiration in his pursuit to earn multiple degrees.
Long after I got my cold cuts, we were still talking. It was obvious the questions I was asking him regarding his desire to get not just one degree but two, and the perspective I was offering when he answered me, were things he’d never thought of. In other words, this impromptu conversation was par for the course of the typical one I have more often than not with a young adult.
I’m motivated to change the false narrative these kids are being fed hook, line, and SINKER!
I ask you … What are we doing wrong as parents, as teachers, as a society, to be churning out kids that believe attending college is THE answer to finding “success” in life?!
The stuff I talk about is really “kindergarten” to me, and probably you, yet it’s scarily and strangely alien to most young adults!
As I’ve learned you succeed in life by working your ass off! If you aren’t able to get passionate about whatever it is you’re doing, you won’t be able to maintain the necessary effort week-in and week-out to work as hard as you’ll have to to get ahead. If you’re looking to earn a degree just to open up a door for you why don’t you just try knocking first?! If no one answers don’t stop knocking until someone does! Rocket science? Apparently, it is since so few knock before diving head first into pursuing a degree even though they lack the comprehension of what they’re even hoping to do with said degree.
And so it goes…on and on, again and again, young adult after young adult. I employ 115 people and am always looking to find more people who’s, “Attitudes Determine Their Altitudes!”
As I went to walk away from the deli counter, Sam ripped off his plastic serving glove, shook my hand vigorously, and thanked me for my “kindergarten” advice. He asked if my company was hiring. “Companies are always hiring,” I replied, “provided you can find a way to add value.” College is a direct avenue for some in learning the knowledge (or at least the perception of knowledge) to land them an opportunity with an employer. For most (yes most) it’s not. Statistically only 15% of graduates earning a diploma end up in careers related to their studies. Fifteen percent!!! As much as many utilize going away to college to mature and gain much-needed life skills the expense to do so should make any sane parent or student at least question that traditional choice. Maddeningly, a huge percentage of young adults end up straddled with college debt while still finding themselves unprepared to add enough value with the degree they earned to earn meaningful employment.
Why then, I ask, is having a conversation to discuss alternative choices taboo in the households of parents who, like me, earned a degree back when earning that degree wasn’t so cost prohibitive?!
If you want to be successful in life you need to find a way to be part of the solution and not just complain about the problem – that’s kindergarten wisdom you can truly take to the bank! Following that logic and my many frustrating observations and interactions with teenage kids as an employer, I’m motivated to solve the “life after high school” dilemma that’s affecting so many young adults. I truly believe that sharing my life’s passion and my own story about being a contractor turned business entrepreneur with today’s youth will open at least some minds to the vast and increasing opportunities that don’t necessarily require a College degree. If you agree with what I’m trying to do follow me on this journey and help me by sharing my posts with others who may benefit from my alternative perspective as well.