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How Much Education Is Enough?

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The new school year is in full swing. We have new teachers starting, old teachers returning, and a slew of students happy to be back in the classrooms. Kids happy to be in school. Yet another unexpected oddity in the COVID saga… a bunch of “quaranteens.”

Speaking with a recent high school graduate regarding attending college, she expressed that she really wanted to go to college so that she “won’t have to flip hamburgers for the rest of my life.” Talk about an eye-opener. That was the future she thought awaited high school graduates who did not move on to college, a life working in the fast-food industry.

How does that sort of an idea get promulgated? I know that our local teachers know better than this. The local school districts make a significant effort to offer an education that will equip a high school graduate to enter directly into the workforce. Our community has supported that effort by passing school bonds to expand the career and technical education (CTE) curriculum.

Roughly speaking, half of our local high school graduates do not move on to further education. What do they do with themselves? There are so many directions they may go. Going back to the fast-food prophesy, they may start out as a server or cashier. With hard work, they may become assistant manager. And then, manager. With the right amount of drive, that high school graduate could wind up owning the place.

Many of our local business owners and civic leaders have attained their positions without the benefit of a college degree. Artie Fultz, for instance, graduated from Iola high school and had two semesters of college under her belt. That was the extent of her formal education. And yet, she passed the bar exam and founded her own law firm. She also established Navasota Abstract & Title Company.

The tech industry is replete with high school graduates or less who have achieved great success. Those include Thomas Edison, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Michael Dell.

Speaking of fast food, Ray Kroc, the man behind Mc-Donald’s, grew that company into a multi-billion-dollar business. Never went to college.

Looking at entertainment, Simon Cowell dropped out of school at 16. Steven Spielberg dropped out of college and had huge success making movies. He eventually finished his degree 35 years after starting college. Actress Nicole Kidman is a high school dropout.

Lastly, consider President Harry Truman, a high school graduate who sought out higher education but was unable to finish. While to some he may seem like a figure from ancient history, in reality he held office from 1945 until 1953. By my reckoning, that was 13 presidents ago and so not quite “ancient.”

Get that high school diploma under your belt, then make your decision if college (or trade school, or military) is right for you. If you go into fast food, make the most of it. But don’t for a moment think that is the end of the story for you.

Speaking of high school, I was voted “Most Secretive.” I can’t tell you how much that meant to me.

Johnny McNally is Grimes County’s Best Dressed Businessman advocating for Grimes County and writes a bi-weekly column for the Navasota