It’s September which means it’s back to school for millions of kids. Many other students are headed to college. True, college is a long way off for my boys. Still, every now and then I’ll plant in their minds the seeds of discovering their unique gifting. My hope is that they’ll have an idea of what to pursue when college rolls around. I’m sure the day when Jean and I ship them off will be here much sooner than I dare admit.
I’m a big believer in getting a solid education. I’ve been blessed to complete both college and a masters degree. At the same time, I know there are parents with college-aged kids who are struggling with the whole college drill. I’m not talking about the feelings of being homesick. Rather, these students lack a passion for the higher education model. They feel lost following a prescribed routine and yearn for a different path.
That can be unsettling for parents who have, perhaps, built up a savings to send their kids to college. Instead of watching their young person enjoy college life, they’re stumped. They don’t know how to react to hearing the announcement: “Dad, I’m not cut out for college.” I have a close friend who has been going through this tension with his daughter for some time.
Maybe this will help. Writing for WORLD magazine, Andree Seu penned a fascinating piece back in June called, “Doing What You Love: Find work you enjoy and ‘feel His pleasure.'” Of particular interest was the story she told about Steve Jobs, founder of Apple computers–who happens to be a college dropout. Steve is quoted as saying:
“After six months, I couldn’t see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK . . . It was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.”
Put another way, Steve said in an interview, “If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts” (Stanford Report, 6/14/2005). The world is a very different place because Steve explored his passion and used what he learned to transform computing as we know it.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that dropping out of college is always wise. It’s not. However, I do resonate with the larger idea that the pursuit of our God-given passions is a good thing. We are creative because our God is creative. As such, I think part of our job as parents is to help our children discover their “sweet spot”–the unique gifting that, as 1924 Olympic medalist Eric Liddell so aptly said, allows him to “feel His pleasure.” That might come through college. It might also come through another avenue.