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Reflections On College Education

Reflections On College Education

Aug 8, 2017 News Archive
Reflections On College Education

Where to start?

Those of you who know me closely know that my wife Sheryl and I have a daughter, Irene, who is not much like either of us and yet she is very much a reflection of both of us. Without question, she’s far more social than the two of us combined. At the same time, Irene is quite capable in math/science and loves art. Her true love, though, is writing. So, neither engineering nor architecture have ever been in her sights.

As much as I would have liked for Irene to take a major (technical) role at 3DENT as I prepare to retire (in 15-20 years), we have been encouraging her to pursue her true passions. If you know Irene, you know that she’s both intelligent and a hard-worker. So, we fully expect that as she takes the less-travelled road, she’ll find herself in a leadership position, regardless of the field she chooses to pursue and where she goes to college. As things stand now, Irene is going to Yale University with no specific major in mind. When asked, her response is that she’ll pursue a degree having to do with creative writing, political science and/or journalism. She has both Sheryl’s and my full support.

I have to admit, though, that sometimes I wonder if we are doing the right thing. Would it make more sense to “play it safe” and pursue writing AFTER having some other “traditional” profession that can provide stable financial income? Or, is it better to go all-out for what you want and take advantage of the nothing-to-lose benefit that being young affords? My current belief is that the best path is one where you have no regrets, and as such, the latter seems to be the obvious correct answer.

Another set of questions arise in considering the value of paying for a traditional college degree in these days where job security is no more and entrepreneurial efforts/self-employment and MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) are becoming more the norm. Would Irene be best served using the not-insignificant moneys from paying for tuition/room/board for 4 years at an Ivy league school to travel and gain experience? Or, would it have made more sense to forego the ivy league education (which only grants need-based scholarships) and pursue a full ride in the honors program at a state school? While I have always said that “it is not the school, but the student,” both Sheryl and I have become convinced that the value of private and Ivy league education is not the education itself, but rather the opportunities they eventually provide through connections and the mentality of those you are surrounded by. So, we have decided to support Irene in that pursuit.

But, enough with the questions!

I hope Irene already knows all these things, but here are a few things I want to record for her to remember as she prepares to live (almost) on her own.

  • Know that as long as we are alive, we are here to support you.
  • Know that we are proud of you and want you to stay humble.
  • Never forget where you come from. Be proud of your mixed heritage and stay in touch with both sides of your extended family.
  • Don’t let success get to your head.
  • Treat everyone the way you know people should be treated.
  • Learn – all the time, everywhere, about any and all things, and from everyone.
  • Teach – Share your expertise and mentor others.
  • Keep in touch with and show your appreciation to all who have helped you on your journey.
  • Enjoy the climb.
  • Be open to unexpected opportunities.

Finally, I asked Irene to provide me with an abbreviated CV so I could include it in this article and start the “networking” process, as I know many of you are likely to have valuable information/connections that can help Irene achieve her goals. So, thanking you in advance for your indulgence and any advice you can share, I leave you with a picture from Irene’s recent high school graduation. Her abbreviated CV can be found by clicking HERE.