What We Learn in College

Food for Thought

My wife had a playdate with her friend’s baby all day. My kid wanted to eat dinner out so we went to a restaurant nearby with our dog.

For high school kids these days, the college admissions process is a dark cloud hanging over them. I suppose it is not fun, like doing taxes.

I explained that she doesn’t have to go to college. Some of the most successful people I know didn’t go to college, and some who went to Ivy League schools have ordinary careers like everyone else.

It’s somewhat fashionable now to skip college, but I would feel I would be depriving her of the greatest experience of her youth. College is where we learn the meaning of independence with others at the same point in their lives. Even if she were to change her mind five years later and go back to college, it wouldn’t be the same. Five years make a big difference at that age in terms of how we relate to one another. In this sense, it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, not reproducible or repeatable later.

On a date, couples typically choose an activity, like eating at a restaurant, even though the main objective is to get to know one another. Likewise, studying is just an excuse while we learn something more important in college.

She has two more years of high school but I feel excited for her already. She is nervous and anxious. It’s understandable; I’ve already seen the exciting part of the movie. She has no idea what awaits her.

It was at her age that I decided to get off the track laid out for me in Japan and come to the US. Whatever expectation I had, or my parents had, for my future was completely wiped clean. It’s only when you stare at a blank script that you realize how many different parties, like your parents and society, are interested in writing your script.

But life does not require a script. I define myself, not with what happens in my life, but with how I respond to them. I prefer chance to dictate what happens, but this is easier said than done; there are many forces that want to dictate what happens in your life. You have to actively protect chance encounters, or you will end up living someone else’s life.