What Should Your Child Study in College?

So, I’m going to be a lone and stupid voice…but I want to save you all the heartache in life I possibly can.

Tiringly, parents incessantly nag their kids into pursuing careers that they are suited to only mildly, if at that…and mostly because of money. Now, before you think about an exception–just leave it there, it is an exception. The Grand Mistake is Pursuing a Job Path in College as Your Primary Goal.

Here’s the truth—when you check it out, you find that about 85% of Americans are not in the career field they studied (for) within 10 years of graduation. Do you see the problem yet? 100 folks study hard and in 10 years only 15 of them are still in that field (surely engineers are an exception!) The reasons are likely multiple, yet understandable. Industries are dying and rising before our eyes—change-and-retooling is the climate in this increasingly face-paced world. However, another reason is even more likely— most people find out they basically HATE the field they study for! They were young, they looked at where the money was, and they didn’t give ‘what do I want to do / what do I love?’ a second thought.

That’s too bad.

Here’s a different viewpoint. Go get EDUCATED, don’t go get an EDUCATION. What I mean here is something to do with developing a particular skill. The skill is simply ‘learning how to learn’. Just think about it. If you can teach yourself anything then you are ready for everything. Need to retool? No problem. Need to advance your career by learning something? No big deal.

The point of education should really be to learn how to learn. Learning how to learn is the traditional idea behind ‘Liberal Arts’. The word ‘liberal’ in education used to be connected to the words liberty and freedom. Once you have learned how to learn, then you are free to pursue whatever you’d like.

May I tell you the big secret about ‘what to study’–it doesn’t matter. OK, maybe if you are going to be an engineer it will, but for most other things it really doesn’t matter. If your child will study something he loves in college, then he is likely to do pretty well at it…which means he has a shot at learning how to learn (because he was successful). It’s even better if he has the goal of learning how to learn in the curriculum he chooses.

My dad wisely told me to study English (we thought I was going to be a lawyer) because, as he said, if you can read and write you can learn and communicate. What more do you need? Exactly!

My son, Tripp, finished at the University of Texas (Austin) with a degree in Studio Art. People used to ask me ‘what can you do with that’? Nevermind they cool ways artists are used in the design businesses… I simply told them that he loves it and has a goal of learning, not a goal of a particular job. Also, if you learn how to take nothing (blank canvass) and make something (painting)….well, that seems like a pretty sweet skill for the rest of your life. Currently he has been employed to study public policy issues and map the causal loops in systems-dynamics presentations. He’s thinking next is seminary and a Phd across the pond. Not exactly Studio Art (though he has sold a number of paintings).

Again, what does that have to do with art? You’d be surprised! He has learned how to learn.

Focus on learning the skill of learning…you’ll be surprised how valuable (and FUN) that path will become for your student and your life.


Fred Lybrand


And Jody Added:

I love Fred’s post here. I will confess, when Tripp first wanted to study art I was a bit hesitant. But Fred is right, it is about learning to learn. Tripp has really done well in his job and has very high praises from his boss on how quickly he learns.I was just reading a book on how so many people are so unhappy in the field of work they are in. This book was telling of the importance of finding out what you love, what your good at, what is fulling to you. Not, what jobs are really hot now, what does the family want me to study, what field makes the most money…

Thanks Fred,



What Get’s Rewarded Gets Done

Maybe what you don’t like happening is your fault. Maybe you are encouraging the wrong
things in your life. Success is clearly about communication, and we communicate
in many subtle ways. It may just simply be that you are communicating to others
that you want THE OPPOSITE of what you really want.

Just ask, “How am I encouraging ______________________?”

What does your mind tell you ?

Great…now think about how to encourage something different. If you only have
creeps coming up and talking to you, change what you are wearing (or where you
go). If only marginal people apply for the job, change the amount you’ll pay and
where you look for employees.

You may get the idea…but you won’t learn it until you practice it!


Fred Ray Lybrand

Thoughts (below)?

Homeschooling Webinar with the Lybrands


Hi All,

This event is over, BUT you can sign up to get it as a Replay. It’s 2 hours of lots of helpful info on homeschooling (and education in general)!

Jody and I are offering a free webinar/teleseminar about Homeschooling. We are going to be able to answer questions as well via chat and phone/skype. You may not know about us, but God has been kind to allow us to successfully see 5 children get educated from start to college in our home. We will share a few things we haven’t mentioned…so it should be good for anyone. Please tell your friends if they are interested in homeschooling.

Quick Bios

Fred Ray Lybrand – Educator, Creator of The Writing Course, Pastor for 24 years, business systems coaching /consulting (TrimTab Solutions), author of 8 books / creator of The Writing Course, educated at The University of Alabama (English Literature/Communications), Dallas Theological Seminary (Masters), and Phoenix Seminary (Doctorate)

Jody Lybrand – Wife (33 years) and Mother (26 years) – Works with Be Broken Ministries – Educated at The University of Alabama (B.S. and Masters in Early Childhood Education)

Tripp (married to Dani) – Eagle Scout – University of Texas (Austin) Graduate (magna cum laude in Studio Art) – works in Business Systems simulation and modeling with Business Laboratory

Laura – (Married to Todd Hanger) Graduate a semester early from Abilene Christian University – works as the Program Coordinator of Community Relations for the St. Louis Cardinals

Forrest (Married to Alyssa) – Eagle Scout – Graduate of University of Texas (Austin) (English/Communications) – Has won a number of awards for creative writing, author of the We Kill Death Trilogy 

Holmes – (Married to Jocelyn) Eagle Scout – Soon-to-Graduate from University of Texas, Austin in Corporate Communications. 

Brooks – Eagle Scout – Freshman at the University of Texas, Austin- scored a perfect 800 on his SAT math section.

All the kids are doing well and are actively involved in their churches and additional ministry opportunities. Brooks, Laura, and I are going to Uganda this summer for a couple of weeks to add in a church planting work we helped begin in 2000 (see About Life and Uganda).

We aren’t perfect and we don’t have all the answers…but we have waded through lots of things and have a few insights we’d like to share along the way.

Come join us:

2:00PM (Central Standard Time)


SIGN UP HERE for the Replay
(2 hour presentation you can download)

Hope you can join us,

Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand (and Jody)

How to Overcome Fear in Writing

Hi All,
Why are we afraid to write? I know that 25 years ago I was scared to death...it's so permanent once it's written. Thankfully there are a few secrets that writers don't explain very well, but I will...

Our approach and understanding of how to overcome fear in writing is a bit unorthodox...
Where most people are saying we must learn to act despite our fear, I'm saying that we can actually learn to STOMP IT FLAT.
The reasons are obvious once you realize that fear is a mis-directed confidence. Writing becomes pretty easy once you get the two barriers out of the way.
Here's a presentation that walks you through the whole point: .


How to Overcome Fear in Writing - Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand

Blessings, .
Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand

Lighten Up – Don’t Teach Math Too Soon

teacher math helpAgain, learning math early is NOT the key. Besides proof with our own 5 kids (Brooks just made an 800 on the math section in his SAT and didn’t start math AT ALL until 8 years old), just look at what the Finnish schools do (sounds a lot like homeschooling as you read the whole list…except a few twists). Finland ranks #1 and USA ranks #23 (lots of reasons for this). The following article suggests a few things. MY APPEAL is to LIGHTEN UP about MATH until they are 7 or 8 (or 9). At 4-6 years old, just use math around them, teach them to read, and rote-learn math facts (actually I question whether or not this is really worthwhile that young).


The Finnish school system uses the same curriculum for all students (which may be one reason why Finnish scores varied so little from school to school).

Here are a few points-

Students have light homework loads.
Finnish schools do not have classes for gifted students.
Finland uses very little standardized testing.
Children do not start school until age 7…
Grades are not given until high school, and even then, class rankings are not compiled.
…more at…http://www.greatschools.org/students/academic-skills/1075-u-s-students-compare.gs

All I’m pointing out is that the Finnish world thinks:

1. All children need to learn math
2. You get help for kids who need it
3. Focus on learning and to be more well rounded…don’t obsess on grades.

I’m not saying we should be like Finland. I’m saying that homeschoolers (and the schools) have terrific opportunity. Finland shows that even if you do some odd things (socialization)…ALL kids can still learn

Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand

7 Ways to Guarantee Homeschool Success

The 7 Ways to Guarantee Homeschool Success

Have you been thinking about homeschooling? Want to avoid the homeschooling mistakes most people make? Below you’ll find what we’ve discovered from homeschooling our 5 children from birth to college.

In 1987 homeschooling was just as newborn as our first child. We looked at homeschooling for a number of reasons which were mostly related to our academic goals. And yet, our first child’s Cerebral Palsy tipped the scales. The simple nature of having a young and impressionable soul around active and undiscerning ‘friends’ made it clear that we should homeschool.. We really didn’t want our son settling into confusion about what he was capable of doing. So, we decided to give it a try until he was old enough to physically function well around others who were his age, but weren’t his friends. We thought it would be through third grade—it lasted until he went to the University of Texas in Austin.

Now, these 25+ years later, we know seven things that we make sure all of our homeschool coaching students start to understand–inside and out. If you want a successful homeschool embrace these seven (or violate any of these at your own risk)!

  1. Define Homeschool Success for Yourself

  2. Use a Curriculum that Matches Your Definition

  3. Don’t Compete with Public or Private Schools

  4. Find a Support Group(s) or Network

  5. Learn to Use Systems for Success

  6. Make Discipline a Nice Word

  7. Find a Coach

Here’s a quick summary to get you started:

Define Homeschool Success for Yourself

Definitions determine everything. If your definition of “learning math” is to ‘get through the book’—then things will turn out very different from the family whose definition is to “learn how to do math.” The definition for homeschooling success that we use is our basic understanding of education. Education is learning how to learn. We want our students to develop skills for learning so they are prepared for anything. How sad when people think knowing information means education…especially when information changes and your are obsolete because you didn’t keep learning.

Use a Curriculum that Matches Your Definition

There are as many curricula as there are people (so it seems). Every curriculum is build on some set of assumptions or educational philosophy. Some writing curricula believe (falsely) that we learn to write by studying grammar, while others show the students the power of learning to write by actively writing (for example see http:www.advanced-writing-resources.com). Whatever the curriculum for whatever subject—make sure it matches your own definition so you aren’t caught wanting one result while using a process that takes you in the opposite direction.

Don’t Compete with Public or Private Schools

One of the great mistakes is to compete with schools. A homeschool does not have large buildings, massive funding, and a variety of specialized teachers. So, trying to produce the results they aim for will simply exhaust you. Homeschool can actually produce greater skill and knowledge, but trying to match all the subjects a school offers is chasing the wind. By the way, the students aren’t always leaving a school system as educated as you think!

Find a Support Group(s) or Network

It is the height of arrogance and the height of inefficiency to go it alone. Why not benefit from the wisdom and knowledge of others? Why not let others benefit from the insights you’ve gained along the way? There are groups online, groups in your part of the world, or groups just waiting to be started by you and a few like-minded families. You’ll never be like the people you don’t hang around…so get busy and connect for your own good.

Learn to Use Systems for Success

One of the great insights in life is how things operate by cause-and-effect. Good cooks can reproduce the same quality meal over-and-over because they follow some type of system (recipe). The practical results you see in life are largely the result of the systems we use. Homeschooling itself is a ‘different system’ of education which is aimed at a bit different result (included the character, sense of family, etc., it often affords). If you don’t have an overall sequence of steps you are moving toward following, then you can rest assured your results will be as shoddy as your system.

Make Discipline a Nice Word

One of my favorite mentors, Robert Fritz, offers a helpful definition of discipline: “Discipline is when you itch, but don’t scratch.” The truth is that some amount of discipline is necessary for learning. Very few children naturally gravitate to wanting to learn in all the areas important to education. It turns out then, that we must help them do what they don’t “feel” like doing, so they can ultimately benefit. External discipline tends to lead to life-long internal discipline. We all need help doing what needs to be done. Homeschool (or any school) simply won’t work without making discipline a nice word which is practiced often.

Find a Coach / Mentor

In many ways it is the ultimate hypocrisy to ‘tutor’ our own children without having a ‘tutor’ for ourselves. There is something powerful when we discuss, interact with, and learn from someone who is ahead of us in any field. Sports training knows the value of coaches because the competition and economics involved are so great. Without a coach you can’t compete. If you find a voice or two you trust, a person or two whose results you want to see in your life— find them, pay them, beg them to coach you. Nothing will save you more time and heartache than to learn from someone with wisdom.




Want Some 100% Free Homeschooling Help?

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5 Magic Questions to Solve Your Child’s Behavior Puzzle

So, it's totally OK to disagree with me here. I'm less prone to think about psychological reasons behavior (largely because they are so hard to prove...and mostly lots of guessing is involved). Instead, we thought in terms of the structures (environment/ rewards / consequences). After watching all of this with 5 children, Jody and I are more convinced than ever that answering these questions (preferable as a couple if there is a couple) gives the real insight:

1. What do I / we see? (current behavior)

2. What do I / we want to see? (future behavior)

3. How am I / we / the environment encouraging what we see?

4. How can I / we / the environment encourage what we want to see?

5. How can I / we / the environment discourage everything else?

I'm not saying that there aren't 'psychological' reasons...but I am saying that children aren't nearly as psychological as they are practical. If you get more attention that you think is 'good' by acting lazy...then you'll probably keep acting lazy.

For example: Cleaning one's room seems to be an issue for many.

We know children can clean their own rooms / space because they ALL learn to do it very well (and very quickly) once they go to Basic Training in the military! Even when they get a job or go to college they start acting better because of the situation. 

There is no real psychology of why they keep their rooms messy. They have a personality and desires that match or don't match a clean room. So, if the environment changes so that 'keeping my room clean' makes sense...pretty much every child on the planet will keep his/her room or space clean!

Don't OVERCOMPLEXIFICATE things! Just answer the questions above together and see if a new solution doesn't fly up from the ashes of despair!


Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand

P.S. I explain this at length in The Absolute Quickest Way to Help Your Child Change (Amazon)

Children Need Quietness

Often we fail to allow time for quiet for our children. Years ago, when Brooks was a little guy, I went and laid on his bed as he was headed to sleep. I find these times good for debriefing the day. After a few minutes of chatting, this little 5 year old said, “Dad, could you please leave me alone now? I have some things I’m thinking about.” Wow!

Margaret Wise Brown, the children’s author, expressed it very well—

In this modern world where activity is stressed almost to the point of mania, quietness as a childhood need is too often overlooked. Yet a child's need for quietness is the same today as it has always been—it may even be greater—for quietness is an essential part of all awareness. In quiet times and sleepy times a child can dwell in thoughts of his own, and in songs and stories of his own.

Margaret Wise Brown

Reading is quiet...writing is quiet...time before sleep is quiet. Encourage it and you'll see it. All of us need quiet to gather our thoughts, calm our fears, and boost our courage. Mostly, of course, we really are just trying make sense of life every day from childhood to twilight.

Off to learn,

Fred Ray Lybrand​

So Why Don’t We Finish the Books We Start?

So, I’m sitting here at my desk and I’m looking around my office of about 1400 books (another few thousand) are in the garage in boxes (yes, it is possible that I have an addiction). 


As I look at them, I realize that some of them I have never read and some of them I have read two or three times. Why would I buy a book and not read it? Why, in fact, would you buy a book (Kindle counts) and not read it? The answer is really simple…it isn’t interesting to you. I know you have been thinking it is about discipline, but why in the world would you be obligated to read a book just because you bought it?

Well, Dr. Lybrand, it’s a waste if we don’t read books we buy. Really? I’m thinking many of us would be better off intellectually if we had skipped Twilight (even if we bought it). Also, you don’t think it is a waste to not watch every show on TV/Cable, etc. [if that’s your thing], do you?

Most of us haven’t come to grips with a reality about our reading— if the book isn’t worth reading to you, then don’t read it (not saying the kids shouldn’t read their school books!). I came to realize many years ago that NOT EVERY WORD in a book is equally important. I also noticed that once I got what I wanted from a book, I couldn’t find a good reason to finish it.

So, as I pondered the issue of reading I realized that one of my biggest issues was that I wanted to be able to tell someone who asked me that I had read it. Really? Yep, that was me. So, as I thought a little more, I realized two things:

1. What I really wanted from the book was what I really wanted from the book
2. It was a waste of time and energy to try and make myself read something that I didn’t really care about

Ah! All I needed was a way to describe what I did with books, so I borrowed a term from the pirate lore:


“Have you read this book?” they ask. “Even better, I plundered it.” I answer. This leads to a conversation about how pirates would go onto a ship and remove the treasures and leave the junk. That is what I aim to do with a book. I want to grab the treasure and leave the junk. Now, sometimes that means I read a book SEVERAL TIMES in order to plunder it. Sometimes the treasure is dense in a chapter or two, so I plunder again until I get every gem.

I think this approach to reading allows me to understand and recall a lot more than most folks because I’m not wading through a cargo hold of salty water and ruined packages.

Why don’t you give it a try? Take a book on your list or shelf and give it a plunder. Plan to ONLY READ the stuff you find fascinating and valuable; in fact, read some of that twice! You might just be amazed at what happens! Oh, and if it works and you are chatting about plundering at a dinner engagements…please give me some credit! 😉

Off to learn,
Fred Ray Lybrand
P.S. You could plunder my book on getting more done: The One Success Habit (You Can’t Do Without).  CLICK HERE
P.P.S. UPDATE: Now it’s like this…

My Office Updated