Thursday, December 29, 2005

Happier New Year

This morning we backed into a discussion about the merits of education and its impact on levels of success. A University of Chicago survey published this week suggested We the People are a bit more stressed and a little less ebullient about our prospects in the coming New Year.

It is not surprising that the number of those reporting at least one significant "negative life event" since 1991 jumped from 88% to 92%. The storms this past summer alone would account for that. September 11, 2001 also fell into that window, so the jump in negativity is plausible...

But wait, there's more.

The U of C survey provides several interesting metrics about the people who answered their phones to participate, including the fact that 15% had been unemployed for a month, four points higher than in 1991. That might be an inherent flaw in the survey: Who better to answer the phone than someone who's not at work?

The part of the poll that got me really cranked up on education was the observation that troubles were greatest among those with low income, poor education levels and among unmarried mothers. I think that the first two factors are defintely connected, and reversing the second factor is a key to solving problems for those in categories one and three.


Education is the key to a better income.
Education is the key to a better way of life.

A listener sent an e-mail to share that she teaches at the inner-city campus of a major state university, and she sees a pervasive attitude that students feel they are owed a diploma if they've paid the tuition. She wrote that mind-set is even more pronounced for those who are attending on someone else's tuition dollars--i.e. through state or federal programs paying their way by virtue of their "disadvantaged" social status.

Anyone getting their college paid for by someone else is at no disadvantage, unless, of course, they squander the opportunity by failing to apply themselves. But that's not the mentality, according to our listener, who's in a position to know: she is in the college classroom, where the rubber meets the road, or in this case, where the chalk scrapes the blackboard.

Not happy with how 2005 panned out for you?

Make 2006 the year you do something about it...and if your path to success leads through a classroom or two, more power to you! You'll pay for the priviledge to learn, you'll work for the recognition of your achievement...and you'll be a richer person for the experience.

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