A recent front-page story in the Des Moines Register caught my eye as it may have yours. It said that a recent survey revealed that approximately half of all young people today do not feel any positive hope for their future. Wow! Was that a shocker? Not really, considering the world they are exposed to everyday. They see a troubled, angry world with disturbing violence, economic instability, cultural clashes, environmental catastrophes everywhere and their immediate world that seems to have lost a moral compass. They hear and see deep divisiveness between our leaders. The excitement and motivation to become an active member of society – to pursue the American dream – is clouded by the daily bombardment of negative messages.
Then I saw a story yesterday on the national news about the high cost of a four year college degree (also in right sidebar). The story focused on the plight of college graduates who have college degrees, big loan debt and unable to find a meaningful, well-paying job. It subtly implied that maybe the high cost of a college degree is not worth the investment for everyone. Perhaps students should consider the option of more skill-centered education that would not require four years or more and provide more focus on job skills.
In the midst of these messages what should students and parents do? I remember when I played basketball at Valley High School, our coach, Kent Gaer, had a sign in the locker room that said “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Simply put, it meant we should do what was necessary to prepare to take on the challenge of competition. In college planning, that means in order to find the positive side of life, you utilize the many resources available to find a positive path to follow. It takes time and effort to consider a variety of post-secondary options, careers and ways to fund whatever option a student chooses.
In working with thousands of students for over 40 years, there was nothing more gratifying than working with a student from the beginning stages of “ what to do” to seeing them find hope and excitement in their life. Is it possible in our tough world today? I believe it’s even more exciting now to find that path that brings a sense of fulfillment.
One of my favorite Bible proverbs that can apply to any one about anything is: “People who don’t prepare become anxious and fail. The diligent who do what needs to be done become successful.” (Shively paraphrase) Proverbs 13:4.