Yesterday, my youngest daughter graduated from high school. That’s 4 graduations in 8 years! As each of my children’s big day drew nearer, I would offer up my own hopes and dreams for them. For the first three – their futures took turns and twists that were either unexpected or a change of mind and heart. Some of the decisions and choices they made worked out well and others didn’t. Something I learned long ago is that we are all our own person – being able to think, feel, and face opportunities and challenges for ourselves. We’re not locked in to a plan designed by our parents, grandparents, teachers, siblings or friends.
The influence I’ve had on my children’s educational accomplishments is much the same as the influence I’ve had on the rest of their successes or lack thereof. For the most part it seems we, as parents, like to accept all the credit for how well our children do but don’t want any of the blame for incorrect decisions. I did my best to model appropriate behavior and extol on the virtues of a high school diploma and some type of higher education – whether it was a four year or higher college degree, an associates degree, technical education or continuing education in a field of their choice. I don’t think college is the cure all/be all its supposed to be. There are many people who just won’t be happy or successful at a four year university right out of high school. The world and our economy still needs hands on blue collar workers – the craftsmen, masons, road and building construction, plumbers, electricians, cosmetologists, etc. The world still needs people to serve up a Big Mac and fries who enjoy serving others. The world still needs the armed forces. There are many choices.
There are those who know what they want to do with their life from the time they are very small. Others might take the first couple years of college or after-high school life to figure it out. I would never have thought that I wanted to do graphic arts had I not been hired in a marketing/graphics field after I graduated. Yes, I regret that I didn’t go on to get that four year degree. But I do know that if I had, I wouldn’t be happy with the field I was pursuing. And so it goes with my children. Their future and their lives are their’s. The most I expect is for them to be productive members of society who are happy with their choices.
Graduation yesterday brought up some thoughts – of the genealogical nature – for me. I don’t think I’ve ever asked either of my parents what their graduation experiences were like. Here’s a picture of my mom in her cap and gown. So this summer when I visit her, I’ll ask her these questions:
- What time of day and what day of the week (& date if she remembers) did she graduate?
- Where was the ceremony held?
- How many people in her family were in attendance?
- Was there a party or dinner for her afterwards?
- What had she planned to do after high school?
- What color were her cap and gown?
- How many were in her graduating class?
Possibly those questions will engage in more dialogue. Those will be questions I’ll ask my dad and my sister as well.
Other items you might take note about when doing research into your family’s educational history. Did both of your parents graduate high school/college/technical school? Head straight into the military after high school (for those who finished school around the time of WWII or Viet Nam)? Did any of your grandparents make it through high school or even college? Has your parents’ or grandparents’ high school completion or college (or lack of) influence your decisions on finishing high school or going on to higher educaion? Do you have a copy (scanned or otherwise) of their diploma or degree? Did they know what they wanted to “be” before getting out of high school? How did they pay for college or higher learning? Did they live on campus or commute? Did they go to college far away from home? What was that like?