Punctuality: An Underappreciated Virtue
The Need for Punctuality
Outside of the sanctuaries of our homes, life is filled with deadlines. As a homeschool parent, I have savored the freedom of our family’s life at home; learning at one’s own pace is often rewarded with unparalleled creativity. However, I have also watched in sorrow as friends and acquaintances failed to secure scholarships and awards which their accomplishments merited merely because they lacked punctuality.
Flooding my memories are accounts from well-beloved students who suffered because of a failure to meet deadlines. I remember the young woman who, with tears in her eyes, told me of the mountain of student loan debt she faced upon her imminent graduation. “I submitted my college and scholarship applications in March of my senior year of high school; if only I had applied in the fall, I would have been eligible for an academic scholarship covering a large portion of my tuition,” she confessed. I also sorrow recalling another talented student who missed not only scholarship opportunities but also admission to the school of her choice. Because she was not qualified? No, but because she failed to apply by the deadline.
How can we as parents and teachers encourage punctuality? We can set timeliness standards and adhere to them. Doing so is hard. I am not telling parents anything you don’t already know; we have probably all had to deny our sons or daughters access to a desired activity because they failed to complete a task. Of course, children are usually unaware of how it pains parents to deny their children. Academic life is no different. Having taken upon ourselves the task of education, we all must extend the suffering inherent to parenting into the realm of education. Saying, “No, I cannot accept your late work” (without a valid reason) causes caring parent educators and teachers anguish. When I am obliged to deny a student, I feel like Gandalf bellowing in the Mines of Moria, “You shall not pass!” I remind myself both as teacher and parent that true love cares for the highest good of the loved person, not that person’s immediate gratification.
In the Christian life, the virtue of punctuality manifests itself in faithfulness. As a teacher, I challenge myself: Do I keep my word to my students? Am I prompt so that student learning is not delayed by my procrastination? In our own lives as well as those of our children and students, let us encourage the emulation of Christ who, despite great personal cost, kept his promises first to His Father and also to us, His children.
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Peterson’s provides a helpful and comprehensive timeline that addresses steps to take for both parents and students. I have also provided a simplified basic timeline to summarize the process of moving toward college entry.
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Marilyn Whitlock loves learning and sharing that love with others. She has a bachelor’s degree in English education, a master’s degree in English literature, a graduate certificate in instructional design, and has completed coursework for a Ph.D. in English literature with a concentration in British literature of the 18th century. As a Ph.D. candidate, she received a full academic scholarship, was a graduate assistant, and taught freshman composition. Since completing her education, Marilyn has taught in a variety of venues including public schools, private Christian schools, and within the homeschool community.