When I was a high school senior I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do with my life; fortunately, there was a good option available: join the Air Force, like my father had back in 1950.

When I was a high school senior I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do with my life.

Fortunately, there was a good option available: join the Air Force, like my father had back in 1950.

However, after 22 years in the Air Force, my father chose to take early retirement so he could go to college. He had made it all the way up to Lieutenant Colonel rank with only a high school education and could have gone further, but he felt badly he had never gone to college.

At the age of 40, he left a good career in the Air Force to sit in college classrooms with a bunch of 18-year olds. (This was in 1972, when 40 year olds in college classrooms were almost unheard of.) He got his doctorate in optometry seven years later.

Obviously, the mere fact of going to college was very important to him. It was so important he talked me out of my plan to join the Air Force, and convinced me to go to college straight out of high school instead.

As a result, I spent the next five years drifting aimlessly, changing my major several times and paying through the nose for the privilege when I could have spent that same time being paid by an organization willing to give me a direction and some attainable goals in my life when I most needed them.

Going to college right out of high school is a choice, but not the right one for everyone.

I don’t think it was for me. With my personality what it was in my teens and early 20s, I think I would have thrived in the more regimented environment of the military than I did when I was drifting rudderless through several different colleges.

Middle-class, white-collar society pays lip service to the military as a calling, but there’s still a stigma among many that the military is a last resort for those who don’t have what it takes to make it in the more rarified world that many teachers, guidance counselors, and parents like to believe they live in.

So here’s my annual advice for the high school seniors column a couple months early. Sophomores and juniors are welcome to listen in, too:

You’re going to get a lot of advice to 1) go to college, and 2) to go right away.

Feel free to ignore all of it. It’s your life, you have to make the choices and live with the results.

Do research and ponder all the options. If college doesn’t seem like the right fit for you now, maybe it will in a few years when you’ve got a little more experience with life. Maybe it won’t ever be the right choice for you.

To military or not to military: that is the question.

. . . . .

Several months ago I wrote a column about how there soon won’t be any people left on Earth who were born in the 1800s, and that it looked like all the ones left were female. The oldest known living woman whose birth can be documented was born in 1989.

If there were any males left born in the 19th century I couldn’t find evidence for it.

Well, as I write this on Thursday morning, I just saw a news story about how the oldest known male on Earth, Sakari Momoi of Saitama City, Japan, was born on Feb. 5, 1903.

I guess it’s official now: there are no more living males who were born in the 19th century. When Momoi goes, there might not be any males left on Earth who were born before the Wright brothers flew the first airplane in Dec. 1903.

The end of an era can’t get any more ender of an era-er than that.