The Mis-Education of a Ski Bum

Posted by JD on January 18, 2013

School – schmool – if you think your child’s education is the ticket it used to be, think again. Providing your child the wherewithal to be creative, independent, and resourceful will count as much as ever in the future.  That’s why I will encourage my kids to take a transition year before or after college and ski their hearts out.

Few things cause me more agita than the subject of the never ending and ‘exponentiating’ cost of higher education.  The implied promise return on a higher education investment has been severely compromised in a world where massively disruptive technology is obliterating the interstitial relationship between capital and labor.

My wife and I were extremely fortunate to have benefitted from graduating from some fine universities at the right time I suppose.  We were lucky.  Our children?  Not so much. As you can see below, the moorings of educational cost with that of any other measure of cost of household goods have been effaced from reality.  What awaits my daughters at the end of the road of college or – gulp - graduate school?  Before they conclude what that might be, I hope my girls take a transition year and live the ski life.

The Spiraling Cost of a College Education No, this is not the "Jupiter Bowl" Profile!

I see two benefits:  the first, engagement above and beyond those of basic needs – an attempt to  reach  the  higher blocks of Maslow’s Triangle of “esteem” and “self-actualization”. It’s not surprising to me that the truly evolved out there often are poets, surfers, mountain climbers who spent lives examined as well as heartily lived.  We can all live out the drone life in the workforce or we can seize the boldness of our youth and take a year “at the crossroads” and contemplate what kind of life we want to live.  I believe connection with the physical world is a true path to that discovery.

Maslow's Triangle Now this is a hill worth climbing!

Lest we completely lose ourselves in the bonhomie of a transition year in the mountains, consider the second more practical benefits of imbued maturity and responsibility:  if my daughters take a year to eat, pray, and ski then some basic hurdles of life management skills would have been achieved. In the future, a career will comprise a series of bundled jobs; a career that stitches a seemingly uncorrelated arc of mini-careers whereby interests are piqued and commercial interests are stoked by one’s passions.  If the rise of social media, machine learning, and the ability to live life in a “24 hour cycle of, document it, post it, and then forget about it” isn’t a statement of our kids’ “today," are we then blithely ignoring tomorrow’s reality?

Some things are still within parents’ control – our family skis because we love it and our children are cognizant of its possibilities and perhaps one day can go live a life in the mountains if even for just a season. Talk about "do-able" – complete independence, a taste of the real world, and living life in a paycheck to paycheck manner is a gift to our children.  I never took the time – I was always hurried to get my career started, but in this case and in these times, I would argue that convention and traditional metrics need to be damned.

I wish I had jumped in those capricious moments. Faced with such choices today, I would sacrifice a few letters on my curriculum vitae for the ski and life experiences.





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