In these United States, is the cost of a university education daunting?
Tell me about it!
The day after
my son Christian
was born, I started a college fund to pay his university tuition. It
comprised a portfolio of four carefully chosen, consistently strong
performing mutual funds. Whenever I deposited income to my own bank
account, I routed 10% to his college fund. Whenever anyone, family or
monetary gifts, I matched them, doubling the amount for his college
fund. So it went for the next seventeen years.
Now, although well intentioned, the truth is throughout those seventeen
years, I always knew I wouldn't make it. No matter how
much I put away, I had it that the amount he would need was
Yet I diligently kept going, setting aside 10% of my income, matching
monetary gifts, for seventeen years ... and all the while, I knew it
couldn't be done. I knew it wouldn't
It was an odd state of affairs - to say the least.
Eventually the time came to send our first payment to UC
college of choice. I sit down to assess the complete state of his
college fund portfolio. I can't believe what I'm seeing. I'm
stunned into silence. Then I let out a shout of joy and
unbridled relief. There's more than enough! There's
enough to cover his university tuition and more,
substantially more, even enough to start his life after
college. Seventeen years of living with a sense of inability to reach
this impossible financial goal (or, said more
seventeen years of erroneously believing I'm unable to
reach this financial goal) is over.
is going to college, fully funded and paid for, with
to spare. It's a triumph for me - just as it is for
when I share it with him.
Last week something happened for
which was a triumph for him - just as it was for me when he shared it
with me, What happened was
Christiandiscovered his life - I mean his awesome
life, his magnificent life, his powerful life
along with all its potential. He discovered the totality
of his life like a possibility. It
moved him to tears.
And when he shared it with me, it
moved me to tears
For two years, he's been studying engineering. He's done very well at
it, especially given the subject's abstracts and complexity. Then two
things happened: one, he took a job in a pizza restaurant and was
quickly promoted to junior manager (no surprise there ...) which gave
him hands on experience running a business. And two, as
part of another program he's registered in, he attended a weekend
course which focused on business and finance. It's during this weekend
that he has his epiphany.
What he realizes (which he shares breathlessly with me) is how much
he loves business and finance. He was getting great grades in
engineering. But engineering isn't what he loves!
He registered in engineering largely because of the encouragement of
others. Yet in his heart, he always knew it isn't what he loves. In the
weekend business and finance course, what he gets is he
loves business and finance. He wants to start his own business not out
of need but out of love for the genre.
didn't simply spent his college fund on his education. Even if he
only did that, I would be totally fine with it. After
all, that's what I
it for. No,
my son Christianrode his college fund for all he's worth, into the
pivotal fulcrum of his own life.
didn't merely spend the
He used it to get something of inestimable
value for himself. At the tender age of nineteen, what he got of
inestimable value for himself was his own life like a possibility.
It's all I can do to not interrupt him with
congratulations as he shares his heart out, how excited he is, how his
life's direction has irrevocably altered given what he's seen, how he's
discovered what he loves to do (ie what he really loves to
do), how he's discovered a life he loves. The excitement in his
voice is resonant, palpable, and deeply authentic. Eventually I get a
in edgeways. I say
I can tell how much you like this new direction you've taken.". He
pauses for a moment, then he says "No Dad, I love this new
direction. This is what I want to do with my life.".
It's a moment many people two and three times his age will never
I say "I love you
You just shifted your perspective on your life from stick figures to
He's changed his major from engineering to business and finance. It's
very timely. All the credits he's gained towards engineering will count
towards business and finance. He's lost no credits and he's lost no
time. It's a switch which is right for him and which obviously
Along with the shift from engineering to business and finance, he's
also gotten a vision for his future family: he wants to
start now providing for his as yet unborn children. It's
riveting and startling to hear this from one so young and yet so
suddenly and so absolutely clear about his future. Actually that
doesn't really tell the truth about him. The truth is it isn't his
future he's clear about. The truth is he's clear about the future
Or, said more
the truth is he's clear about
living into a future of
his own creation,
and he's completely inspired by it.
He could have simply not rocked the boat and lived out his college
career as an engineering student. He could have simply stuck with the
status quo. But instead,
a future for himself in which he's now fully invested, based on what he
This is the genesis of a new realm of possibility for
- and for me, and for us,
and I. This new realm of possibility marks
the end of him experiencing his life (and of him and I experiencing our
relationship) like stick figures, and the start of us experiencing them
like IMAX 3D.