I present to you three stories of how the scourge of school dropout looms monstrously over your dreams and the dreams of your children. I’m going to give you the key to avoid it.
Let me share a few short stories with you before delving into what I want to convey to you today.
Yanira is about to conclude the second semester of six that includes the baccalaureate (preparatory, institute or secondary). She wants to study psychology to help children who have suffered separation from their parents, as happened with her. She is 16 years old and for three months she has been the girlfriend of a boy who had been chasing her for almost ten, when they entered the College. Together they go to the plaza, to the movies and to parties in which alcohol and car racing in the street are usually the most common; but sometimes they also try to do homework and some other things. The truth is that they spend too much time alone.
One Monday, Yanira missed school. Tuesday was not either. In fact, she no longer came back. A week ago her mother came to the address to officially terminate her, because Yanira is pregnant. Although the director of the School explained to her mother more than ten ways in which the girl could continue her studies even with her motherhood, her mother said that Yanira had already lost the opportunity to fulfill her dreams.
“What dreams?” I asked the mother.
The truncated architect
Most of the time that I got into the taxi to go to the university, the driver would start telling me about his children or relatives who had achieved a higher education. I soon realized that these men could not help feeling a bit of shame – perhaps because they had not been able to do it themselves – and I noticed a very recurring pattern in these talks. A typical conversation was like this:
“It’s very nice to do what you like, isn’t it, young man?”
-So is. Thank you very much.
“Note that I was studying architecture, young man.”
“How interesting, and what happened?”
—Well, you see, I had my daughter, I had to get married and well, that’s where everything was left, but whatever it is, we took her there, friend, you can’t complain, although you always have the feeling of not having fulfilled your dreams.
To which I ask myself: “What dreams?”
He who does not find himself
Toño is the son of my neighbors, he is a handsome, agile and athletic young man as well as a brilliant student. He finished his high school with an enviable GPA, but three years ago when trying to enter a public university, he was rejected. When a private university learned of his athletic accomplishments in high school, it offered him a scholarship to play on one of their teams. He accepted, but after less than a year of courses he lost the scholarship due to indiscipline and low achievement. Because he couldn’t pay his tuition, he had to drop out of school. Ten months ago he got a cashier position at a bank branch, so he was able to buy a new car and is planning to move out of his parents’ house.
The last time I spoke with his dad, he told me that although Toño is fine, having to drop out of school shattered his dreams.
So I ask myself: “What dreams?”
What do these stories have in common?
Besides the fact that all the protagonists had to watch their “dreams” die, what do Yanira, that taxi driver, and my neighbor Toño have in common?
I’ll tell you: none of them had a life project. In other words, they never really had a true dream, if we understand this as a concrete aspiration towards which we will make the best decisions, towards which we will direct our best efforts and will make us get rid of all distractions.
Every year I attend between two and ten groups of young people like Yanira, who begin their upper secondary education (pre-university level) and at the end of the first year, the groups decrease by up to 30 or 40 percent. Boys are absent for various reasons and lose the right to be evaluated, which causes a low expectation for the next period. Others disregard their homework or simply stop going and nothing more is known about them.
The benefits of drawing a life project are incalculable
A solid life project could have helped Yanira to consider her courtship more sensibly, to handle things carefully, not to expose herself at parties or dangerous activities, and perhaps have prevented an unplanned pregnancy. Even if this one had been presented, she would have known what adaptations and adjustments to make in her original plan so as not to give up her life plan.
A project would have allowed that young architecture student to become a father only a while before becoming an architect and thereafter to dedicate most of his days to working on what he really liked so that perhaps, have greater purchasing power to support your new family.
If Toño had drawn up a life project, he would not have allowed the first rejection of the public university to stop him, or that his indiscipline and low use would take away the opportunities that sport had given him. I would not be confused believing that the only goal in our life is to buy a car and rent an apartment so that we can have parties every weekend.
Before an event takes away your dreams, I invite you to ask yourself: Do I already have a dream? That dream is your life project.