Send high school grads to work first?

Now that millions of teenagers across America have suddenly found themselves free of high school, they should be encouraged to find employment instead of immediately starting more school.
I know most of these recent graduates have already applied and been accepted to college, but I implore them, and their parents, to think twice about this scheme.
Parents can and should exercise so-called “tough love” and reason with their offspring to give work a try before becoming ensconced in another academic morass.
Far too many millions of our children will attend college, spend four years “learning” and then emerge thinking they are actually prepared for real life.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
The myths and fantasies and warped pictures of America handed to them by professors, many of whom themselves have never had to earn a paycheck from any entity besides their own universities, is patently false and misleading.
Professors, for the most part, haven’t ever signed the front of a paycheck. Professors haven’t battled in war nor served in peace as members of the military.
I know there are many exceptions and I bless those that have served as business owners and servicemen, but it is the stark and brutal truth that our kids in college are being shepherded by sheep and not by actual shepherds, you know, the guys with big sticks who tell the sheep where to go.
I advocate a modest one year of work, foreign or domestic volunteerism, military reserve service or working with parents and being mentored by them before entering four years of questionable education.
Why am I so cynical?
Actual work leads to actual reality, or truth about life, and as the Bible saying goes, the truth shall set you free.*
I know of too many arrogant youngsters filled with loathing for their parents and grandparents because they have been set loose upon the land with false images of the perfect society and therefore find societal status quo woefully inadequate, often blaming anyone or thing older than they for the ills and injustices as exposed on television news and in the pop culture they so dearly love.
Can’t blame them completely as they were just fed four years of mostly liberal pabulum loaded with sugar and lies on everything from Islam and Israel to the environment and capitalism versus communism.
My cynicism is also the result of observation. If 10 million start college, by the second year seven million are left and by the third year five million and by the fourth year two million and upon graduation, those that are left still aren’t sure what they want to do and why they chose their majors in the first place.
Is it such a crime to show your child a recruiting pamphlet for the Air Force or encourage them to volunteer at the community food bank and Habitat For Humanity for a year before wasting your money in the college of their choice? Maybe even, gasp, suggest they try a trade school instead of tackling hundreds of books clouded by liberal bias written by lifelong students just recently removed from mom’s basement.
Give alternatives a try. Your sparkly-eyed Einstein will only benefit from the experience. Of course, parents who think their children are merely part of a great assembly line or somehow involved in a sprint against all other humans ought to themselves stop and smell the roses. Your child isn’t “losing” a year in a short race towards corporate success, but stoking-up on carbs before the great marathon we call life.
*The Gospel of John, 8:32

(Gary Bégin is the managing editor for NCW Media, publishers of several weeklies and the monthly Wenatchee Business Journal. His views are his own and do not necessarily reflect that of ownership. He can be reached via email:

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