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The Difference Between Completion, Admission and Success

When parents and teachers discuss education, the focus is usually on two words:  completion and admission.  First, there is talk about the completion grade level requirements, completing diploma requirements, and so on.  Second, there is talk about gaining admission to colleges after graduation.

There is a topic, however, that is more important than both of these, yet is rarely discussed in education circles:  success.

Completion and admission are one-time events in our lives.  We can name a date when we completed high school, and another when were admitted into college.  They may have been significant events in our lives, but in the big picture, they are relatively insignificant.

Our lives are long and our needs are many.  Being able to provide for ourselves requires much more than the completion of one study program and admission to another.  It requires success that continues for many years.

When speaking of vocations, the old Baltimore Catechism mentions two requirements:  interest and ability.  Loving what one does is not enough; one must also be good at what one loves to be successful in it.  Likewise, being good at something isn’t enough for success; one must also love doing it.  Success requires perseverance in good work over a long period of time, and this is not possible when one is outside of his proper vocation.

The skills that are required for the completion of study programs and admission to colleges are not the same as the skills that are necessary for success in a field or work or study.  Students can cut corners, fail to satisfy objectives, yet still check boxes.  They can complete the diploma requirements, or get past the admission criteria, but this is not success. Eventually, the real skills and, more importantly, the work itself, will expose the student who has not studied with the right intentions.  Schools give diplomas to many students, and colleges admit many students, but employers don’t hire many workers and customers don’t trade with many producers.  The market we enter into for work is competitive and success requires real skill that is subject to real results.

Modern education has been reduced to the completion of diploma requirements and is measured, wrongly, by college admission outcomes.  Neither of these criteria measure the quality of one’s education.  The true measure of the quality of an education is success in one’s vocation.

When we look back to the classical liberal arts curriculum, we find education with a true and proper focus.  That focus is on the cultivation of skills that apply to all vocations, true human skills.  We focus on language skills, reasoning skills and communication skills.  We learn the principles of various sciences from which we may reason to solve new problems that cannot be predicted. We study to know God and His works, which is true wisdom.  We seek to understand human nature as well as human history so that we can not only know what men have done in the past, but be able to predict what men will do in the future.

These are the concepts and skills that prepare a student for success in life.

Without discipline, most students will not be able to pursue these concepts and skills.  They will have time only for the completion of minimal requirements to obtain a diploma and, perhaps, gain admission to a college.  Modern families celebrate these events as if they are great achievements, but if we are honest, we can admit how common they are.

If we are to seek not only the requirements for completion and admission, but also the requirements of success in our vocations, we must have discipline to get all of the work done. If we don’t, we may have diplomas and degrees, but we will not have success.

God bless your studies,
Mr. William C. Michael, O.P.
Classical Liberal Arts Academy



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