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The manicurist I went to today was about twenty years old. She had long brown hair and was heavyset. I don’t remember how we got on the subject of homework, but it’s an interesting one to me, because I think that most high school and junior high school students have too much homework these days. I’d rather see them having more time to develop their talents and hang out with their friends.

“Did you have a lot of homework when you were in high school?” I asked as she painted a shiny pink coat of polish on my nails.

“I wouldn’t know, because I never did any of it,” she said.

Her answer startled me. If I were your mother, I thought, you would have done your homework. But I said nothing. And then I started thinking. Would going to college have been the best thing for this young woman who chose to never do her homework?

We have this idea in America that everyone should want to go to college and became a professional. The truth of the matter is that everyone does not want to do that. And not everyone should.

Isn’t it ok that this young woman wants to be a manicurist? She seems happy doing what she is doing. In Robert Klose’s book, The Three Legged Woman, he says, “somewhere along the line during my college teaching career, an assumption (or directive) arose in American society that everyone should—must—go to college. The results have been in a word, mixed.” He tells the story of one of his students named Brian who one day gave him a piece of cake that was so delicious that he said to him, “go to cooking school.”

Who would we go to for a manicure if everyone became a teacher, a lawyer or a dentist? I don’t know. But I do know that a professional career is not the answer for everyone. Today I had new insight into a stranger’s truth.