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Vectra Bank Expert Jeff Thredgold

A Parent’s Letter to My Children in School

Written by Jeff Thredgold, President, Thredgold Economic Associates

July 20

To my children and grandchildren…

With your focus on education, I often find myself thinking about how much the world has changed since I was in your shoes. The world is now a much “smaller” place—people of all cultures can communicate and travel with ease. You face great challenges today…just as I did…just as my parents before me. These words of advice might be helpful:

  • Recognize that the only limits you face are those you set for yourself
  • Be the BEST that you can be
  • Recognize that YOU are responsible for your successes and failures
  • You must earn your way
  • Strive for excellence…not perfection
  • See the glass as half-full, rather than seeing it as half-empty
  • Focus on positives, rather than on negatives
  • Look to praise, rather than to criticize
  • Look for ways to succeed, rather than excuses to fail
  • Commit yourself to constant improvement
  • Understand how important education is to success
  • School is the key.  Technology rules. You need better skills to succeed
  • Learn what is being taught, but most importantly, learn “how” to learn
  • Develop other information sources to verify, or challenge, what you are being taught. “History” is routinely twisted or rewritten to support a particular point of view. Get other ideas
  • Treat teachers, administrators, and fellow students as you would like to be treated
  • Be the first to say “Hello”
  • Develop your mind in school, but also develop other skills and interests, including music, art, and physical fitness. This is where teamwork develops its roots
  • Be a well-rounded person
  • Resist taking “easy” classes
  • Dig into math, the sciences, and computers. These form the technical foundation for future success
  • Study language
  • Speak and write English correctly
  • Appreciate other cultures by learning another language
  • Be honest in your approach to learning
  • Resist the temptation to cheat—you only hurt yourself
  • Develop a keen interest in the outside world
  • Pay attention to the “news.” The “real” world can be very different from the student world you live in today
  • Avoid the temptations of alcohol, smoking, drugs, gangs, and irresponsible personal behavior
  • Understand the steps you take today have lifelong implications
  • Choose your friends wisely
  • Do what you can to make a teacher’s job easier, not harder. Teaching is one of the most important, most difficult, and most underpaid professions in the world
  • Participate—but don’t be a pain!
  • Be a friend to all. Extend a hand of friendship to all other students, regardless of race, creed, or color
  • Make a special effort to be a friend to those less fortunate than you
  • As you mature and face new challenges, don’t hesitate to discuss with me what is on your mind. You might learn from the mistakes of others
  • Recognize how LUCKY you are to live and be educated in this great country. People from around the world are dying every day trying to get INTO this country…not out
  • Don’t forget to have fun!!
  • School can be a great time in your life
  • Experience it
  • Live it
  • Enjoy it

Many of these suggestions will be useful throughout your life—learn them well. I wish you the greatest success in your efforts and hope you find school both rewarding and enjoyable.


Sixteen years ago, we published this letter as “A Father’s Letter to My Children in School” and the response was amazing, with requests to reprint over 150,000 copies.  Since then, just as students around the country are getting ready to go back to school, we run it again.  We hope you enjoy it.

A Parent's Letter

Due to its strong demand, we have published A Parent’s Letter to My Children in School with illustrations as a soft-cover book.  It normally retails for $8.95, but as a back-to-school special now through August 31, you can have it for only $5.95. 

And to make sure you have as many copies as you need for all the students on your list, we will reduce the price even further for orders of 5 or more copies—plus you get free shipping on all orders over $29.  Give us a call at 888-847-3346 or visit for details and to take a special inside look at A Parent’s Letter.

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