As the tassels turn, students punch their tickets


The book “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” by Dr. Seuss is often gift-wrapped by well-wishers and then unwrapped by graduates.

The title is suitably upbeat for a celebration. After all, the line that follows “Oh, the places you’ll go!” is “There is fun to be done.” Later the story reads, “KID YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!”

We appreciate the spirit of the season. Graduation commencements are so fun, and the rows of students all look so brilliant.

“You won’t lag behind, because you’ll have the speed. You’ll pass the whole gang and you’ll soon take the lead,” the book assures us.

But we take a moment to pause and remind the graduates — younger students take note — that the book also states, “You will come to a place where the streets are not marked,” and “When you are alone, there’s a very good chance you’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.”

So students of all ages, tighten your belts and prepare well.

About 40 percent of Colorado’s high school class of 2011 needed remedial courses, although down from 41 percent the year before. And at four-year-level schools in the state, the retention rate for students not assigned to remediation was 79 percent, compared with 60 percent for those needing remediation.

That’s not good, and it costs money — a lot of money.

The estimated cost associated with remedial courses was about $58 million in 2011-12, with the state’s share at $19 million, according to the Colorado Department of Higher Education 2012 Legislative Report on Remedial Education executive summary.

Critics can say by the time students have graduated from high school they have already gone a lot of “places” — academically — compared with other countries, such as China, where electives are fewer and core skills are stronger.

The world doesn’t wait for everyone to be road ready or then provide a smooth ride. So to the students who have a good idea of a place they want to go, we encourage them to follow their ambitions without reservation.

To the rest, don’t be swayed by the notion that there is this vast amusement park of career fields to sample after high school before committing.

Instead consider making a choice with 4G speed, and don’t back away from your instincts by the idea that you might not want to stay in that chosen field for a lifetime.

The somewhat questionable general statistic that the average American will experience seven careers in a lifetime can be comforting or disturbing — depending on your point of view. We say ignore it, dig into a direction and dig in.

Do your best to see that your courses are accountable to provide the training for the needed skill sets and the knowledge to understand the changing world. Learn as much as you can, and be competitive in earning door-opening good grades.

So that’s our skinny to students on their journeys.

And a final thought — in contrast to “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” which has the words “you” or “your” more than 100 times — the future can be less self-centric and involve a direction to help someone or to seek an important answer.

The words of neurologist Viktor Frankl, author of “Man’s Search of Meaning,” sometimes find their way into some of our favorite commencement speeches.

“Life ultimately means taking the responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfill the tasks which it constantly sets for each individual,” he wrote.

Oh, the people you can help.


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