Working Harder (and smarter) – Mike Rowe on Hard Work
Home » Blog » Working Harder (and smarter) – Mike Rowe on Hard Work

“Dirty Jobs” host Mike Rowe has taken up a cause that many in education would otherwise ignore: encouraging high schoolers to think less about passion and more about practicality when it comes to the next phase of their education.

“Three Million Good Jobs”

The increasing number of students taking on excessive student loans, in order to pursue degrees that are unlikely to give them the means to pay down their accrued debts, much less earn a living, is just “nuts” –  all the more so, given that we are facing a shortage of trained and skilled workers in trade-based occupations. According to Rowe, there are currently “three million good jobs that no one seems to want”, and only 1 in 10 require a college degree.  

Rowe wants to make it clear that he does not discourage college studies – rather, he has an issue with the “current wisdom” that attending and earning a four-year degree is the only valid means to succeed in today’s highly complex economic environment. To that end, he set up a foundation, mikeroweWorks, that offers scholarships to students who demonstrate the “hard work” ethic. Unlike most foundations, the scholarships offered by Rowe’s foundation are primarily focused on trade schools and programs that teach skills such as welding, HVAC, electrical engineering, carpentry, engine mechanics, welding, plumbing, and pipe fitting, among others.

The S.W.E.A.T. Pledge

As part of the application process, all prospective awardees are asked to take ownership of their education via the S.W.E.A.T. pledge, which includes (among other points) the following statements:

  • I believe there is no such thing as a “bad job.” I believe that all jobs are opportunities, and it’s up to me to make the best of them.
  • I do not “follow my passion.” I bring it with me. I believe that any job can be done with passion and enthusiasm.
  • I deplore debt, and do all I can to avoid it. I would rather live in a tent and eat beans than borrow money to pay for a lifestyle I can’t afford.
  • I believe that my education is my responsibility, and absolutely critical to my success. I am resolved to learn as much as I can from whatever source is available to me. I will never stop learning, and understand that library cards are free.
  • I believe that I am a product of my choices – not my circumstances. I will never blame anyone for my shortcomings or the challenges I face. And I will never accept the credit for something I didn’t do.
  • I understand the world is not fair, and I’m OK with that. I do not resent the success of others.











For more information on the scholarship program offered by the foundation, please visit:

Thoughts on this post? Additional ideas on how to impart the “hard work” ethic? Please feel free to share them with the OTA community on my Facebook page; we would love to hear from you!

Jonathan Meola, co-founder and instructor at Open Tent Academy, attended the University of Miami, where he earned his B.A., and returned several years later to earn a graduate certification in Applied Quality Management, while helping to manage executive graduate degree programs for their business and engineering schools.

Professionally, Jonathan has worked as a technical consultant, managing enterprise software implementation projects for several international companies and government agencies. His project work has also taken him to Canada, Israel, and Mexico. Jonathan has also developed curricula for corporate training, and led sessions as a faculty instructor on many occasions.

Today, Jonathan resides with Eva in a small town outside of Jerusalem, and teaches courses for OTA in several areas, including history, social studies, software applications, and cinema/literature. Jonathan has three children, all of whom were homeschooled at one time or another. In his spare time, he loves traveling, reading, photography, analyzing politics, history, NCAA college football (Go Canes!), and cinema.

Other blog posts by Jonathan:


Share with:

× Need help? Available from 07:00 to 22:00 Available on SundayMondayTuesdayWednesdayThursdayFridaySaturday