Sometimes the best advice can be found on a sign. In this instance, I believe very important important advice could be found on a sign outside a local podiatrist's office last spring.
The sign advised local graduates: "Don't major in something minor."
I interpreted that to mean more education helps not only the student, but all of us as well.
Further, I contend that not all majors are as beneficial as others. I realize some believe an extremely diverse society makes life more interesting but I'm of a more economic bent. I believe a course of study that allows you and your family to live the best possible life in this great country is the best major to pursue.
Recently, a smart young person was telling me he could not decide between a soft liberal arts degree or an engineering degree. The liberal arts degree would require post graduate studies before he could earn a comparable standard of living as his parents. In other words, he would need six years of education as opposed to four.
I counseled the individual to go for the technical science because one can always have a life-long hobby of reading history or philosophy but it's darned tough to learn engineering without rigorous training offered by colleges and universities.
I understand some readers are going to disagree with me here. Some will say little Missy and Junior should be able to spread their wings and follow any course of study that interests them. That's nice.
However, if the kids attend a state school, then I'm helping to pay for their tuition and thus, I want to see the colleges and universities producing high earning graduates. Or, more to a selfish stance, I want more taxpayers in the higher income brackets to help pay for the political shenanigans of our politicians. We need doctors and engineers and I want our children to be prepared for those jobs rather than seeing how many "green cards" we have to authorize to keep those positions filled in our hospitals and factories.
I want to balance Maslow's "self actualization" with the economic and scientific needs of the country. Do we still need low paying jobs too? You betcha. But we don't need to fill them with the top students.
My platform is to guide graduates to collegiate studies apropos to their brain power. This country needs to get growing again and that takes trained scientists and engineers to create economic leadership.
Of all the teenagers who have sailed with me in past summers, we now have a veterinarian, a Ph.D. in nano-biology, a kid with the job title "scientist," another with a master's degree in meteorology, a deputy sheriff, a contractor and an airline pilot.
That's a pretty good record for just one boat.
I know that Junior and Missy might like art history or another liberal arts major but our country needs more complex skills.
"Don't major in something minor" is great advice to spur on students.
President John F. Kennedy said "Don't ask what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." JFK's advice is as relevant today as it was then.
Our students need to remember that.