Now is the time of graduation and new choices. Elder Paisios would commonly give advice encouraging students to continue their studies. He noted how so many young people come to him and complain about the pressure their parents put on them to study and to go onto college. One of the stories he gave to those making such complaints is recorded below.
There were two boys going to the same school and living in the same neighborhood. The first was very smart. With very little effort, he got excellent grades, straight A's throughout elementary and middle school. The second was not as bright, but he was able to keep up with the first one by being very diligent in his studies. When the first boy finished the first grade of high school, he got involved with bad company, dropped out of school and in the end had to go to work in a company as a janitor. He got married, had two children, and it became very difficult for him to make ends meet. The other boy continued his studies, went to law school, went to Europe for graduate studies and earned a degree in business management. One day at the company where the first fellow was working, they were waiting for a new boss to arrive. Everyone was saying how educated he was. And in the end, the new boss ended up being his former classmate! He recognized him the moment he saw him. The janitor became so depressed he even tried to kill himself a couple of times. Someone told him to come and find me on Mount Athos. After talking to me about his life, he exclaimed over the final surprise, "Can you imagine – that I have him as my boss!" I then gave him a thorough scolding and told him, "You could have been more successful than your friend. You and your children would have been much better off that you are now, and you would have been in a position to help others! As if it wasn't enough that you make your family suffer, you now want to kill yourself, leave your children orphans and destroy your family? I don't feel sorry for you; you brought this on yourself. But I do feel sorry for your poor children. Do you understand? So try to be patient, and I believe with God's help, even the new boss will be kind to you; he may even give you a better job. And if you are not at peace there, go ad find another job elsewhere. Don't leave your children in the streets." That shook him up and he pulled himself together.As parents, it is very important that we encourage our children to study hard, to watch the friends they choose and not let them deviate from their studies because of poorly chosen friendships or any other reason. If they graduate in good standing and are encouraged to go on to further studies they will have a much greater chance of having a happy life in the future. If a student develops the habit of procrastinating in their studies they will most likely also procrastinate when they enter the work world.
There is no surer path for a good life than to keep focused on one's studies and to complete them before taking on the burdens of family life. Of course this also includes as a foundation based on care of physical as well as spiritual aspects as well. As we face the difficulties of studies and the competitive challenges they may bring, our faith along with the encouragement of loving parents can help one endure and be successful.
Reference: Elder Paisios of Mount Athos: Spiritual counsels IV: Family Life, p 31-32