Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

February 13, 2014

Motivation for education: College key to obtaining career goals


Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— — If you read my column last week then you already know my views on parents setting an example for their children and being positive role models so children will grow up to be productive citizens in our world.

Not only does this go hand in hand with children’s behavior but also their education. I was not the smartest person in my class, I hated school and I only did the bare minimum to get by. With that being said, I never realized how important it was to actually do well in school until it was time for me to find a job after college.

After getting into college, I seemed to get smarter as the years went on, but that’s what is supposed to happen right? I mean you’re not paying all that money for nothing, right?

My first and second years I struggled to adjust to my newfound freedom and also do well in school. Just like in high school, everything else — such as my social life — always seemed to be a bigger priority.

Even though it felt good to do well in my classes as long as I got a C or better, I didn’t care. I was 18 and having fun.

As the years passed and I discovered I was not going to have the opportunities that I wanted in life if I didn’t do well, something just clicked and I started doing better. I studied and panicked more than I ever had in my life over my classes, and when I didn’t do well, I would call my mother crying.

All of the sudden an average grade wasn’t good enough and if I didn’t get that A then I was not satisfied. I am not exactly sure to this day what lit this fire under me but I knew without a college degree I would never find a job or live a lifestyle I was accustomed to.

It felt good to do well on tests and papers, and when I got that A, I felt accomplished — like all the hard work and studying had paid off. I always think now how easy high school would be if I could go back, and I wonder what it was that made me not care. I always think about what could have been if I had tried to do my best in high school.

On the other hand I have a younger sister who seemed to be a genius. This girl never cracked a book, and I never saw her study or do homework. She got straight A’s kindergarten through 12th grade, graduated with highest honors in the top of her class and was a star volleyball player.

All of this and she didn’t go to college after she graduated high school. She did decide to attend the community college at home, but never followed through and ended up not doing well at all. She worked part time as a hostess at a restaurant and wasn’t really doing much else.

Our mom finally pushed her to go away to school and get her education and she did. She is enrolled at Virginia Tech and doing extremely well. She has a whole new outlook on life and really enjoys going to class and learning. Plus she is making lifelong decisions and friends that she would have never had living at home.

I am not disagreeing with living at home, saving money and going to a community college — sometimes that is all we can afford and we have to do what we can to get an education.

This is where it is important for parents to come into play. Parents need to not only encourage students at a very young age to do well in school, but also to make it a point to make college and careers important. Parents need to start thinking about these things when their children are young.

Although my mother attended a two-year veterinarian technician school a few years after she graduated high school, she has always told us how much she regrets not doing better in high school and going on to have a better career.

She always pushed my sister and I to do well and be better than she was — this is what parents are suppose to do.

In today’s world, numerous people have their bachelor’s degree and many others are getting a Master’s degree or Ph.D.

If you don’t have a degree or any desire to go to school, just remember that when you go to apply for a job there will always be someone with better qualifications than you.

It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you do something to better yourself. There are so many programs and opportunities for young people these days that many schools have something to interest everyone.

Money is always an issue and stresses many people out. School is expensive, but if you want something bad enough then you will find a way to make it happen. Although I had to have student loans, my parents did everything in their power to help me get through school and also pay for it.

Even though I will be paying for my college degree for a long time, every penny was worth it and worth all the sweat and tears that I put into it. In high school, I never worried about college like I should have, I was just more interested in getting out of my parents’ house. After I began taking it seriously it was the best thing I have ever done for myself. Not only did I get an education, but I made lifelong friends and opportunities that I would have never had if I decided not to go to college.

A degree — any type, big or small — is something that you earn for yourself and something no one can take away from you.

Anne Elgin is a reporter at the Daily Telegraph. Contact her at aelgin@bdtonline.com. Follow her @BDTElgin.