Q: Since I was very young, I helped my dad work on his car and two of the classic cars he has. I really like to repair cars. I just graduated from high school and I want to go to vocational training to learn more about car repair and eventually open my own business.
My parents want me to go to college. I was a good student in high school but none of the subjects interested me. I have no idea what my major would be in college. They told me to write to you to see what you think and whatever answers are given they’ll go along with. Thank you for helping us with our little disagreement. ~ Car Fixer
Dear Car Fixer,
A four-year college degree is becoming less and less likely of a solid investment into well-being. Costs of college are skyrocketing while income (especially for those right out of school) remains low. More and more young adults are finding housing to be a problem with many of them staying with parents after graduation. However, vocational training is a worthwhile investment. Some communities are realizing this to be true and are making investments in vocational colleges in their community to build a strong labor force. And as someone who is decidedly not a car guy, I know how much knowledge and skill is required to do the job well.
If you have passion and skill for car repair, I say pursue it. If in five-10 years you want to go get a business degree to help you as you run your own business, great! And if you find you have enough drive to teach yourself and learn in different ways – that works, too. If you were a good student without interest in the subjects, I would assume you have a generous work ethic and doing something difficult doesn’t dissuade you. That’s a great building block to success.
I think, deep down, as parents we worry about our children finding success but, deep down, we don’t really know what we mean by it. So we take shortcuts and think it means money or grades or what college you attend. Can you enjoy the work you will do and do it with integrity? Can you position yourself as a help to those who need it, offering your skills as an asset to a community? Commit yourself to learning, to growing as a person, to making the world a bit better wherever you find yourself.
Rev. Kyle Sears
Dear Car Fixer,
Congratulations on graduating from high school! I hope you had a great celebration and were happy with your high school years. Now it is on to the next part of your journey.
First, let me say that not everyone’s journey is the same. Many of your peers will be going on to college but there will also be some who are not. Everyone must find their own path. This might be the time for you to explore what you are really passionate about. Maybe this means taking a year off from school to work and learn what it takes to open your own business. Maybe it means taking a class or two at the local community college on car repair or business management. As you begin to learn more about repairing cars, you will also begin to discern whether this is something you want to do for the rest of your life. And if you decide to attend a four-year college at some point, you can do that too.
Frederick Buechner, who was a pastor, theologian and writer, once wrote, “The kind of work God usually calls you to is the kind of work that you need most to do and that the world most needs to have done.” Whether or not you attend college this year or in a year or two or never – I hope and pray that you are able to discover what you are passionate about and how you might share this passion, this talent, with the world. After all, we do need great and honest car repair persons! And may you always know that no matter where you go or what you do, God goes with you to love you, support you and guide you.
Blessings on your journey!
Rev. Karin Ellis
Q: I just graduated with a degree in communications and I am also working on a master’s degree in that field as well. My problem is I want to join the Navy. I have friends who are in the Navy. One of them, after serving four years, signed up for another four years. There is a good possibility, because of my college education, I would be sent to officer training. My parents don’t want me to enlist. I really want to “Join the Navy and see the world.” What can I tell them to alleviate their concerns? ~ Adventurous
First of all, thank you for wanting to serve your country. I have a cousin who went to West Point many years ago and he served in Korea. I personally did not serve in the military and I think there are other ways of serving one’s country than by entering the armed forces. Still, I admire those who choose to serve the nation by joining the military. With your education, you might indeed be tapped for officer candidate school, or whatever it’s called these days. And being in the Navy would seem to be a “safer” place to serve than someplace else, although – as I’m sure you’re aware – there are no guarantees in this life, in the military or out.
But there are many advantages to serving in the military. For one thing, if you serve 20 years, you can retire and do something completely different and still get money from Uncle Sam because of the time you’ve given him! And if you don’t like it, you don’t have to re-enlist when your first commitment is over. Tell those things to your parents and see if they’ll change their minds. But if they don’t, don’t be surprised. You are their beloved child and they don’t want to see anything bad happen to you. But it’s also your life and your choice.
You are probably too young to remember the TV show, “Father Knows Best.” Maybe he does and maybe he doesn’t. But again, it’s your life and not his. Good luck in trying to navigate the difficult line of respecting your parents and doing what you feel you need to do.
Congratulations on getting your degree in communications and pursuing a master’s! Making decisions about the direction you want to go in your life can be daunting, especially when you are weighing the desires of others along with your own. The first thing to do is to seek within yourself what makes your life feel meaningful. The calling to live a purposeful life requires discovering what you truly desire. Oftentimes it requires experimenting with different careers, locations, etc. that allow you to try on different scenarios.
When making a life-changing decision, understanding the “why” is essential. Knowing the cause of your decision can give you insight into your choices. The cause is the driving force that fuels your passion and gives meaning to your life. For instance, when you first selected communications as your major, did you have a career in mind that you wanted to pursue? Explore what’s prompted your change of heart. You signed your name “Adventurous” and used the Navy quote about seeing the world. Is there something intriguing about the Navy other than travel? Joining the Navy is a commitment to serve the country. It is a rigorous training program that requires physical conditioning, military training and mental toughness and you will be deployed for combat. Is that a commitment you’re willing to make? A career in the Navy can be extremely rewarding on many levels but it is a decision that cannot be taken lightly.
Ultimately, no one can tell you what the right decision is for you because the answer resides within your own heart. As Shakespeare said, “To thine own self be true.” My philosophy is always to turn to your connection with God, knowing Spirit is your power source. Prayer is releasing the power within you to receive the guidance and direction you need to follow in the direction of your dreams. Every single thought is either one of possibility or limitation. Align your thinking to be in harmony with Spirit’s guidance for what is best for you. Listen to your heart and trust that Spirit is guiding you to your best decision.
Rev. Mary Morgan