So you want to go to college, huh? A noble goal. So you go to your local library and pick up a book on how to get into college. You’re enjoying the information. You feel more familiar with the process now and then get to the chapter about how to pay for your online education. The author talks all about the types of scholarships that are out there. Your mind begins to swell with possibility and excitement. It mentions grants that you can receive from the government, money that you don’t have to pay back. And for the most part there’s nothing there that surprises you.

You most likely grew up attending a public school. And while you may not have known how that was paid for you’re pretty sure you never heard your parents complain about not being able to send you to school.  This is the culture that many of us grew up in. Receiving free education seems like a given.

However, just a generation or two ago, if you look, there are stories of our parents and grandparents working their way through school. This is something that I hadn’t considered much until recently. It was always something I took for granted. But after watching the recent State of the Union address by Pres. Obama and seeing the types of questions that people were asking on YouTube, I had to rethink the way that I saw things.

There appears to be growing mentality that mirrors the grasshopper from the old children’s story. “The world owes me a living,” is a phrase that many of us wouldn’t speak out right, however it seems to be coming through in our actions and expectations. I want a house, what is somebody going to do to help me? I need a job, what is somebody going to do to help me? I want to go to school, who’s going to pay for it for me?

I never understood until recently why I was raised with such an important focus on education. I realize now that part of the value my mother placed in education came from her having to work to pay for that education herself. I see now that the passion I have for learning comes in part from that value my mother had for her own education, born of diligent work.

There’s wisdom in the old saying of Pres. Kennedy, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” On a more basic level we may say to ourselves, “I ask not what others can give me, but what I can work for, achieve and then pass on to others in the form of a higher understanding of its value.”

Now I’m not saying that anyone who received a grant or scholarship automatically value’s education less, but there seems to be something we can learn from past generations as well as from immigrants to America who worked so hard to make their way and in doing so developed strong characters and a pride in what they earned.

So when all you see is counsel on how to get free money or how to go into debt, how to cut corners and get something for nothing, consider an option that includes working to earn your way. Yes, it will be more difficult, but the rewards that come from it may be as great if not greater than the education you’ll receive. You might also find that the work ethic you gain in your online college experience carries over into your career, benefiting you much more than just the knowledge you gained in your online classes.

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