In honor of daughter Willow's graduation from Penrose Academy, Gov. Palin posted the following message to her Facebook page. I found this message of particular interest because I have a son who, at almost 16 years of age, is thinking of his future at this time. So here ya go, common sense advice from a mother of five.
In a separate post, Palin honored Willow by posting an album of photos here.
Kids, Follow Your Dreams, But Be Practical To Be Employable
As my family travels to Arizona for Willow’s graduation this week, allow me to be a proud mom in congratulating Willow and her classmates at Penrose Academy on this achievement and also offer advice to young people that I always give in graduation speeches about following your dreams.
In planning for her future, Willow thought long and hard about what kind of work would make her happy and provide her with a good income in today’s economy. She’s artistic and has an interest in making people feel and look their best, and as an entrepreneur with a strong work ethic she desires to be her own boss as a small business owner. With all that in mind, she decided to finish her high school requirements quite early and enroll in an academy for hair and skin, which allowed her to study abroad, visit the sets of major media productions, and work with the best of the best in the industry. She’ll be graduated this week with no debt and a great career ahead of her doing something she loves in a recession-proof industry (everyone needs their hair cut after all!).
It’s crucially important today for young people to think about the big picture when making education decisions. And the big picture is the goal of self-reliant business opportunities based on work ethic and not entitlements. One of the reasons I aggressively encouraged vocational training opportunities as governor of Alaska is because they lead to good paying jobs and happy careers. Young people should not be pressured into assuming that a college degree is the only path to employment today. It’s not. Some college degrees obviously lead to clear professions, like those in the medical and engineering fields, but that’s not the case with many of the liberal arts degrees young people today gravitate toward either because they aren’t sure what they want to do after college or because they’ve been led to believe that college life is a sort of rite of passage for any career. That might have been the case once, but the salary and career opportunities a liberal arts education alone can get you have been dramatically limited these days. It’s so sad to see young people holding expensive college diplomas that come with no practical job opportunities.
I’m not discouraging a student from getting a liberal arts degree if that is his or her dream. I am always for following your dreams. How could I be against a liberal arts education when I myself got a liberal arts degree in journalism/communications from the University of Idaho? However, I knew when I was graduated from high school what I wanted to do, so it wasn’t as if I was embarking on an expensive voyage of self-discovery. And I’m proud of the fact that I was able to pay for my degree myself and graduate debt free. See how times have changed? Back then I was able to work my way through college and pay as I went. I had to go to school part-time some semesters in order to work and intern full-time, so it took me five years instead of four to get my bachelor’s degree, for which I've been roundly criticized by the liberal media (but how many of those critics were shackled in debt after they perhaps gallivanted around the globe with their daddy’s credit card in their backpack before finally finishing college and snagging that gig at MSNBC?). It was actually possible back in the ‘80s to graduate debt free. Nowadays it is next to impossible unless you have a full scholarship. Students today often graduate with the equivalent of a mortgage in college debt for a degree they’re not even sure they can parlay into a job. As Daniel Mitchell recently wrote, young people are buried in college debt “yet they are having a hard time finding jobs because Obama’s policies are stunting the economy’s performance. And even if they do find a job, the research suggests they will get paid less. Not just today, but for the foreseeable future.”
Follow your dreams, by all means. But don’t be blind to the fact that your dreams might be achieved outside of acquiring an outrageously expensive traditional college degree. Do not be lulled into thinking that good jobs grow on trees or that the government will somehow take care of you. The bottom line is – as my dad always told me – find out what you love to do, then find out how to make a living doing it. Learning a trade can do both. No one can take those vo-tech real life skills away from you. They lead to independence, satisfaction, and a paycheck. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Kudos to Willow and all Class of 2013 students for taking this lesson to heart. We’re so proud of her!
- Sarah Palin