April marks the beginning of when 1.8 million college-bound high school seniors will decide on which college to attend in the fall, followed promptly by their parents proudly telling their friends, family, and co-workers of their child's decision, and ending with their high school publishing the list of elite institutions attended by the Class of 2018.
Left virtually out of the conversation, with little fanfare or public recognition, are the 150,000 high school seniors nationwide who are not college-bound, but rather military-bound immediately after graduation.
These young adults — who represent less than 1 percent of all high school graduates — and their parents are often overlooked by school officials, or even worse are often made to defend their decision, as was the case last month at El Rancho High School in California, where a teacher of a Marine Corps-bound senior verbally humiliated him in class, stating that "only dummies go into the military."
It is no wonder why the parents of military-bound seniors may go "underground" at this time of year. They are tired of defending their child's decision to serve our nation. This happens especially in suburban communities, where nearly all the parents have college degrees and where 90 percent or more of the graduates go on to four-year colleges.
But here are a few facts that educators and parents, including those of military-bound seniors, should know:
So, this month, when you meet high school seniors who plan to enlist into the military after graduation, or their parents, please say thank you for their selfless decision to serve our nation. For without their willingness and desire to stand guard for the next few years, other children wouldn't have the freedom and privilege to pursue their dreams, including attending college this fall.