Monday, September 21, 2009

Parents, when it comes to preparing for college, Relax!

Tim Clydesdale, a sociology professor at the College of NJ who has spoken to parents at our church, sent me this article today. It is great and deserves notice by parents.

In the article Jay Matthews of the Washington Post echos a statement that Clydesdale made at Grace Point last May. That is, the quality of school you attend doesn't greatly predict your future. The implication for parents and school administrators should be relax. I've had way too many discussions with parents about what they are putting their children through in order to get them to the best college. Pushing them into the highest level courses, extra tutoring when they struggle to get A's in those classes, adding multiple demanding extra curricular, and many other tricks that they thing will help to build their child's resume. None of these things is wrong in moderation and in the right manner, but what I witness is too many youth who are over stressed and, worse yet, have their identity wrapped up in their success.

I followed Mr. Matthews' example and thought of a few people that I've greatly admired over the last 15 years and looked up their colleges. In my list are people I've worked for, studied under, enjoyed their music, recognized their accomplishment as overcomers, read their books and follow their blogs.  The colleges represented on this list are as follows (in particular order): 2 at Michigan, Friends University, California San Diego, Reed College, Stanford, Wheaton and Augustana. Of those, two did not receive degrees. One only audited classes and another left to start his career.

So my challenge to parents, as well as school leaders, is to help children understand their real value. Ultimately that is in a relationship to Jesus Christ, but even within that relationship you children, all of them, have something unique that they need to develop. A university may be a part of that, but not likely the tell-tale part of what they can accomplish. Education is important, but education can come in so many different ways. Build a great relationship with your children. Help them to develop other relationships with mentors who will provide guidance. Provide for your children opportunities to experience things bigger or different than them. Foster their spirits. These will help your children to succeed much more than stretching them to a point that they end up in schools that don't really help them in the end.