Monday, May 25, 2015

Why Community and Technical Colleges are a viable option?

When I think about the traits I really like in people.. being a straight shooter (someone who tells it like they see it) is one trait I admire.  It is more than simply speaking your mind, its more speaking what you think but thinking before you speak.  Making an argument with solid data and also offering up viable solutions.

One such guy is Mike Rowe from the popular show "Dirty Jobs" and more recently his new show on CNN, "Somebody's Got To Do It."  He's a straight shooter.  I've watched this video before and then happened to watch it again.   I found it even more interesting the second time.  Being a good parent means that we push our kids to be more or do more in life.  That is one of our jobs as parents, but it s a big job!  Teaching those skills and abilities to help our offspring become better.  My Dad's vision for his kids was simple, he wanted his kids to have it better than he did!  Which in my view is a noble pursuit.  Something I often think about for my own kids.  I jokingly share with my kids that they can be anything they want to be after medical school or law school.  I too want to be able to say that my kids are a success because they achieved a professional status in life.  There is nothing wrong with that thought process.. right?      

When I see young people struggling in todays world because support from their parents to pursue a college education is limited or even non existent, I am troubled.  I've even experienced it where parents who come at it with a different viewpoint, they only want their kids to have it as good as they have had it. Not directing them or even pushing them to be more.  This mentality can limit a young persons aspirations and motivation for a better life.  There are probably some really good reasons, both culturally and economically for this engrained thought but this mentality does impress limits on young people.

But this bring up the question, does not going to to college impede success in life?  If I didn't go to college, what limits would I be putting on my future success?  Can I be better off than my parents were?  Is that notion still possible?

Before you can decide on going to college you really need to define what success means to you.  What does success look and feel like to you? Is it the ability for your parents to brag about you to neighbors about how important you are or how well you are doing financially?  I know we want our parents to be proud of us because we grew up believing in that notion.  The reality is you need to define what success means to you because this decision is really about you.

In my career, I have worked with many college students from all walks of life. Many of those college  students defined success as making money, making a lot of money. OK.. then I would do you plan to make it?  Few had plans like starring on American Idol but most did not.  The funny thing is that I used to give an opening assignment to my classes,  I would ask them to write a two page paper on where they see themselves in 10 years.  Describe in detail your house, your job, your car, your family.. everything you see.  I read those papers and found that that about 80% of my college students did not make money the priority.  Their vision was not to get rich but to find good work, make a good living and have their own family.  They wrote of having a nice house and doing things they love to do.  Making money was important but not the most important thing to them.  Living a good life was the message I received from these students.

Going to college is still a great way to learn new skills and grow as a person.  But if you don't know what you want to do then I suggest that Community Colleges and Tech Schools are a great place to start exploring what you like and what has potential for you to make a career.  It is an opportunity to learn about areas that interest you and then learn how to apply what you learned to make an income. Community and Technical Colleges are designed for you to get skills and get to work or get the foundations and transfer to a 4 year college or university.  For a student just coming out of High School, you need those hard skills you get in the classroom to get the job you want and the soft skills like communication and teamwork to keep the job.  All are offered by your local Community and Technical College and at a reasonable rate.

Now Moms and Dads, please keep reading.  It may be a hard pill for parents to swallow but the key idea for parents is to remember that you should help your kids to be the best they can be.. at whatever they choose to do.  If my son or daughter told me that they want to be a plumber, then I will help them become the best plumber they could be.  When your child selects a career path that may not have a great demand for in the future be engaged with them and talk about what other opportunities are available and how their skills they learned may be transferable given their educational pursuits and attainment.  

I hope you enjoy the video and you gain something from it.  I certainly did.