by Renee Brown
I’m really grateful to my parents for a billion things, and near the top of the list is the importance they placed on furthering my education after high school. When I was growing up, I didn’t really understand that not everyone attends college. Since it was always presented as what one does after collecting the high school diploma, it didn’t occur to me that people would choose other paths.
I’ve employed my parents’ approach to raising my sons. I talked to them about life after high school, and the need for continued education and training. I shared (appropriate) stories about college life and have taken them to visit my alma mater for a football game and a tour of my dorm, various apartments and the campus. They know I’m really proud of my journalism degree. I also taught them about compounding interest by showing them their 529 Plan statements every quarter so they could see the funds growing.
And now, it’s really coming together. My oldest, Sam, is a sophomore at a community college and blazing a trail for a career in computer science. And my baby, Zachary recently received his high school diploma. For years, he was planning to go to a four year college to study mechanical engineering, but he got really into his metals classes in high school and showed some straight-up welding talent. Pretty soon his conversations started moving away from engineering and more towards an industrial trade.
We have a pretty terrific technology college in town so Zachary and I spent an afternoon touring and learning about the various programs. At one point, when we were in the machine shop, I looked at his face and saw such excitement and anticipation that I teared up on the spot. Here he was, standing (very) tall at 18 and secure in his life path. The next day he applied, was accepted and will begin in four short months.
And that’s what’s so great about the world today. There are so many options for kids once they exit high school. Some kids travel, seeing the world through such young, adventurous eyes. Others join the military, or pack their bags for mission trips, and others get right to work.
The fact that my son is not attending a traditional four year school does not bother me one bit. He’s always been an incredibly tactile learner, with a strong need to keep his hands busy in order to listen better. And the fact that he was so jazzed when seeing the facilities at the technology college and its layout confirmed it was the right choice.
I can tell you when I was 18, I knew I was a decent writer but really didn’t spend much (if any) time planning a career path. But both my boys have done just that. And for this I am grateful and proud.
Renee Brown lives in Minneapolis with her two tall sons—Sam, 20, and Zachary, 18—and three obstinate felines. She is a senior account executive working in advertising and an avid reader, wine drinker, creative writer, and yoga enthusiast.