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Josh Manning's Thoughts of Higher Education Part One

You will only get out of education what you put into it.


I'm not kidding when I say this - the amount of money you put into education is pretty equal to the amount of money you better plan on getting out. Look at our President. He graduated with an MBA from Harvard. When was the last time you saw a President that had a B.A. in English from Nicholls State University? That is exactly what I thought! You go cheap, you get cheap back!!!

I'm only kidding about that. NSU has plenty of great graduates: Rep. Billy Tauzin, Judge John Wiemer, Ken Well (the front page editor for the Wall Street Journal), actor/radio host John "Spud" McConnell, my mom - these are extremely successful individuals. At the same time, Nicholls does have it's fair share of extremely unsuccessful people - those who graduate at the top of their class and years later are still trying to find a job.

What is the reason for this?

Simple. Successful people realize that a college degree does not automatically earn them the right to have a job. No, it is only the beginning. The only thing that piece of paper does is give them an open door. It'll get them a job interview they wouldn't have gotten otherwise.

Anyway, back to the point here. If you want to come away from school with something valuable, you've got to put something valuable in! What I mean is this - school has got to have some sort of emotional cost with it. Everything worth anything in life does. So, when school starts to get tough - and there will be those times when you want to quit - know that it is in those times that you are probably learning and growing the most! Don't be discouraged, but know that every single one of us went through them!

I know some people for whom school presented no challenge . . . they chose the easy major . . . they took the easy classes . . . and when they got out they became one thing. Losers! When they finally have a challenge, they fall flat on their face or they whine and try to get out of the situation ASAP.

They hadn't learned perseverance. Thankfully, I learned this lesson early on.

High school was a breeze for me. I'd sleep during class and my only form of studying was looking over my notes as the tests were being passed out.

Rarely did I make below a B, and I was satisfied with that. I was too busy with clubs and sports (at which I also excelled) to worry about doing my best academically.

That began to change my senior year. That year, I was truly blessed to have a homeroom teacher named Aphrodite Giles. A strange name, to be sure, but she was a teacher who loved her students and her job. She could have easily made more money, but she loved our small private school and the students there. I say blessed because I probably learned more from that woman than I have from any other instructor - although some have come very close. I'm telling you, if there was any class that I did struggle in, it was the classes I took with her.

While in my other classes I could literally "study" as the test was being passed out, Ms. Aphro's classes killed me. I made a D one grading period in my Spanish class (a C overall in the class that year) - the lowest grade I made in high school. The reason for this is that I tried my same laissez-faire study habits in her class. Yet she required us to actually do work and be prepared for class. We had to read novels, learn grammar, memorize poems, read more novels, act out plays, give speeches, read novels, write poems, write research papers, write a life autobiography, oh, yeah, and she made us read some novels.

In the classes that I took with her (several Englishes and two Spanishes), I learned a few things:

  1. Espanol es el Diablo!
  2. I really like Mark Twain's The Adventure of Huckelberry Finn
  3. When writing about your own life you can make up lots of facts and get a better grade for it.
  4. Hebrews 12:1-2: "Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the thrown of God."

It is this last point that I want to emphasis here:

As I said, in high school, for the most part, I was able to coast by. When I got to college, things were somewhat the same for the first year or so. In fact, coming out of Ms. Aphro's classes, my first year of college was actually a heck of a lot easier than my last year of high school. When I got to my sophomore year, however, the classes became exponentially tougher. I went from not having to study much to have to read a whole heck of a lot. Needless to say, there were times I wanted to quit.

However, I kept hearing Ms. Aphro's voice in my head telling me to "run with endurance the race that is set before us." You see, during our senior year, she knew she was a tough teacher and knew many of us were used to having easy classes. She knew we would want to give up and settle for second best in her classes as long as we passed. Heck, it was our senior year! So, she found every Bible verse, most of them written by Paul, that compared Christianity - and life in general - to a race. She encouraged us - high school was a race, the race that was set before us. We needed to persevere and not slow down, but speed up as we came close to the end.

Anyway, this idea transferred itself to college. I finished the race of high school and signed up for another race - college. I finished the first one rather well, so I couldn't weenie out halfway through this one. I needed to keep going on.

I think this can be applied to our lives in many ways - no matter what field or stage of life we are in. Chances are, in some way, shape, or form, we signed up for it. And even if we didn't, it is still the race we've got. So, stop dragging your feet and pick up the pace!

Anyway, now to tie this whole thing together with my original point. Times are going to be rough sometimes, but if you want to be successful, you just got to put up with them. You don't necessarily have to enjoy them, you just got to get through them! And when you invest your time and effort and energy into something, it makes you a better person and more sure of yourself. Then, when you go into that interview, and Potential Boss X asks you why you are the best person for the job, you can answer with confidence.

So, yeah, while you don't necessarily have to be thankful when the times are rough, realize that it's only helping you to become a better person. If you approach it with the right attitude. But that sermon is for another day!