Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Contemplating the Question of College —Day 12 of a Town Girl Touched by the Farming Life

Not college, but you get the idea.

            Too many times a farmer has his plans lined up for the day but is unable to complete them.  Sometimes it's the weather.  Sometimes it's uncooperative machinery.  Sometimes his own body halts the day's agenda.  The same type of day touches everyone, including this girl from town.  The title says it is Day 12 when in reality it is for Day 12, not made public on Day 12.

            What was I doing yesterday?  Taking two of my daughters on another college visit.  Sometimes I wonder why we bother since we do not have the money to send them, yet I do not know what God has planned.  I like to leave our options open to what He chooses to provide when and how He wants.  My older two daughters graduated from college.  Of course, their hard work regarding assignments and part-time jobs (and some college loans) contributed to their success, but without God's intervention with scholarships and grants, they would not have received a bachelor's degree—or at least not in four years.

            That brings me to the next daughter in line (and another one a year behind her).  Not only do we have questions of which college and which major, but also a little thought whispers, "Do they need to go to college?"  I think farming parents with their own land would find this "whisper" to be very loud as they consider college for their children.  "Why spends thousands of dollars to learn something that they could learn better by hands-on experience on the farm they will eventually take over?" 

            However, in this changing world, is that enough?  Even as a town girl, I can see how high tech farming is becoming, e.g. using satellites to guide the application of fertilizer in the right proportions over a field.  Can the farming family in the next generation survive only by what they learn from their parents?  Besides needing to know tractor mechanics, will future farmers also need to know computer science, environmental science, chemistry, how to write a business plan, etc.?  Still, it can be a tough call.  My daughters' options without college will be very limited, so it is much easier to be motivated to find a way for them to attend a college or technical school.  In contrast, if I was running a farm, I would have to wonder (1) if the payoff for a college degree would exceed the cost of that degree and (2) if I could spare the children as "hired hands" while they took turns going to college.  Our family is touched in a big way when contemplating the question of college, but I believe the farming community has an even bigger dilemma when considering college.  Good luck to you.

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