Dear Parents... - Macleans.ca
 

Dear Parents…

Not every student will be a doctor or a lawyer. But you know what? That’s okay.


 

Dear Parents,

I meet a lot of you each day, at university fairs, at QUIP visits, and in hallways. Every time we talk, there’s a mixture of emotions that runs over your faces. First, you evaluate me to see if I’m the kind of person you’d want your son or daughter to associate with. In assessing me, you assess the university I represent, and, if I make the cut – fingers crossed – you start asking questions. You usually want to know about our programs, our class sizes, how long it will take your student to get home, what our reputation is like…the list goes on.

But, behind all of that, these are the questions I think you really want answered. I’m not a parent, and this obviously isn’t a comprehensive list. But I think if we were honest with each other, these are the two of the questions you’d ask, and the responses I’d try to give you:

  1. Will my son or daughter get a job?
  • No matter which university your son or daughter chooses, there’s a good chance they will get a job. This country needs educated people to fill jobs that the knowledge economy will continue to create. I promise, no matter which university your child chooses, they will find gainful employment.

    But can I ask you one big favour?

    Don’t make them decide what that job will be just yet. The four years they spend in university will have immeasurable impact on their personality, their passions, and their priorities. They will love and lose, experience success and failure, and return home each holiday season full of new lessons and experiences. It is through those experiences that your child will decide the kind of person they want to become, and how they will make their impact on this world.

    I hate to break it to you, but not every student will be a doctor or a lawyer. But you know what? That’s okay. We need nurses and engineers. We need social workers and community leaders. Most importantly, we need people with open minds, who can face the challenges of the future. Please, give your child the chance to do that.

  1. Will my child be “okay”?
  • Well, that question is relative. Will your student face challenges in university? Absolutely. Those challenges will come inside and outside the classroom. They will come when you least expect it, and require split-second judgment. You know your child, and you know what they’re made of. You’ve instilled values in them since birth, and you should trust your instincts when they head off for the first time. Will they make mistakes? I sure did. But I learned from them, and so will they.

    We’ll take care of your child, and make sure that the services they need are readily available. But we look forward to the day when they no longer need our help. That’s how we’ll know that we’ve done a good job, building on the foundation you’ve left us

I’m not here to sell you something. It would be foolish for me to believe that my five-minute speech seals the deal on a $40,000 decision. Consider me a resource, and use me as such. I’ll answer anything you want to know in an honest way. I want to help your student make the right choice. If that means that they attend the university I represent…great! If not, that’s okay too. But be sure to ask the questions you want answers to. Nothing is silly, or redundant. I’m here to help you with this process, so please…ask the questions you really want answers to, and let me help.

Sincerely,

Mark


 

Dear Parents…

  1. Hi Mark;

    Love the blog and it’s honesty. My daughter says the Bishops talk at Earl Haig Secondary was cancelled this past week. Too bad!! I came to hear you at NOrthern thinking she had heard your talk that day. Are you at any other Toronto schools before out west? Or do you have a make-up time planned for Earl Haig?

    Thanks..

  2. Hi Susan,

    Thanks for the feedback.

    I’m in the area until the end of this week, then I’m headed out west. Feel free to e-mail me at mark.lawson@ubishops.ca and we can set something up!

    Best,

    Mark

  3. I hate to break it to you, but not every student will be a doctor or a lawyer. But you know what? That’s okay. We need nurses and engineers. We need social workers and community leaders. Most importantly, we need people with open minds, who can face the challenges of the future. Please, give your child the chance to do that.
    ^
    In essence, we need academic losers. We need social workers who’ll get paid about 5$ an hour (and will do something extra on the side like prostitution to pay the bills). We need nurses so doctors can boss them around and get them to do the “dirty” work. We need engineers because..well..well..engineering is a respectable profession, Mark, I don’t understand why you used them as an example of relative failure.

    Anyway, we need people who failed at their dreams and succeed at being mediocre.

  4. Hi Kellie, thanks for your comments. For some reason, I never received an alert that you’d posted. Better late than never, I suppose.

    While you may use the term “academic losers”, I’d prefer “happy, successful, satisfied.”

    I know a number of social workers who haven’t actually turned to prostitution to make ends meet. One is now the CEO of a successful company. She has her Masters in Social Work, so I’m not sure she’d consider herself an academic loser.

    I know a number of nurses for whom a career healing and helping has made them pillars of the community.

    And as for why I included engineers…well, you hit the nail on the head. Engineering is a respectable career. So are the careers I listed preceeding it. I wish that they were mentioned in the same breath more often.

    There’s nothing mediocre about doing something you enjoy for a living. My point was simply that students should be free to choose their own direction.

    Best wishes,

    Mark