Wednesday, August 17, 2011

But On Paper It Looks Better...

On my afternoon get-the-hell-away-from-my-desk walk, my best friend and I saw a teenage boy sitting on the grass across the street.  I mentioned how similar the boy looked to our friend's son.  We both stared at the back of the boy's head, silently willing him to look in our direction so we could be sure and avoid unnecessary embarrassment from yelling out a random name at a strange boy.  While we were about to round the corner, the boy finally turned towards us.  Our assumptions were correct, and we walked over to chat with the boy.

I had learned recently that he had been home-schooled during the past year due to issues pertaining to him discontinuing participation in his former high school's football program.  Having attended and graduated from the same high school myself, I know how aggressive the administration is about its football players and have experienced how every other program takes a backseat to that school's sports programs.  Anyway, there is a charter school office down the street from my office, hence why the boy was out on the grass in a not-so-random office complex doing his homework.  During our brief chat, he said he was most likely going to go back to his old high school for his senior year.  I asked him why (since it was contrary to what his mother told me over dinner last week).  He said he was told that "they" don't take graduation from a charter school as well as a regular school.

Um, who told you that?  His parents of course.

Well, okay.  But who is the "they" that the parents are referring to?

"I don't know."

No, of course you don't.  And the best part...

I'm sure neither do your parents.

His parents are simply well-meaning.  We live in a culture that puts a lot of value into brands.  We don't ask for a tissue, we ask for a Kleenex.  Harvard sounds a lot better than Greendale Community college.  I'm sure his parents don't really know who respects a "real" high school (and how would anyone know if the school didn't have "charter" in its name?), they just want to protect him and make sure that he has the best possible chance to succeed.  The boy is already gaining real world work experience by taking a part-time job working in his father's office and is looking forward to getting his insurance broker's license.  I'm sure that any potential future employer is going to be much more interest in that and his accomplishments and the RESULTS he pulls over his completely irrelevant high school education.

The value in a name is not all it used to be.  Many employers will be happy to see you meet their requirement for having a high school diploma.  To date, I have never had an employer ask to see any of my diplomas, degrees, or awards listed on my resume.  I have never had an employer contact the organizations I list in my education to verify that I passed all my classes with straight As.  What they have done is called references listed and previous employers listed (assuming they are still in business).

If education was such a big, stinking deal, why wouldn't potential employers call my college; why are classes even graded beyond pass or fail?  Perhaps these are inane questions, but I'd rather ask then continue to blindly follow the advice of others who clearly don't know any better than I.

No comments: