AUGUST 15, 1957
NEW YORK—I have had several letters asking me if I was not upset by the decision of one of my grandsons, Franklin D. Roosevelt III, to go to Yale instead of Harvard. There seems to be a feeling that because his grandfather and his father went to Harvard, a tradition was established which must not be broken. I have no feeling of this kind and I am quite sure my husband would not have had such a feeling.
A young man planning his career must decide for himself where he thinks he can get the type of education he is anxious to receive. In this case, I understand that my grandson spent a weekend both at Harvard and at Yale.
He wishes an education as an electrical engineer and he made the decision to go to Yale. Whether this is a wise decision or not is not my business.
I am sure that he consulted his parents, and they probably gave him the benefit of their best advice. But I am sure his decision was not based on any feeling that you must obtain your education in one particular place because that is the tradition of the male side of your family for two generations!
I hope that, having made his choice, he will make the best possible use of the opportunities offered him by a great university.
The inquiries on this matter give me an opportunity to answer some related questions which are brought up occasionally.
I sometimes have found both men and women feel they have a right to advise their children strongly, not only on where they shall obtain higher education but also on the type of education or profession they should engage in.
Often when a young man or woman expresses a desire to enter into some particular kind of work, efforts are made by other members of the family to bring about a different decision.
I think it is entirely natural for parents to wish to see a business or profession, into which they have put many years of their own lives, carried on by a son or daughter. Yet if there is a strong feeling against it on the part of the younger member of the family, I cannot feel that it is right for the parents to force the child's decision into certain channels.
Sometimes a youngster will follow his own bent for a short time and later decide that what his parents wanted actually meets his own desires more closely than that which he has been trying to develop for himself. But this only comes about when freedom of choice has been allowed in the first place.
Such a change of decision is usually the result of experience—not always happy experience—but it is better to go through it than to be forced into a mold and never know that what you really wanted to be did not suit you.
It sometimes is hard to allow young people to learn from their own experience, but in the long run, I think, it is probably the only way they ever do learn.