Graduation season - thoughts for middle schoolers and high schoolers looking to take the next leap.
I have a talk with Nepris coming up pretty soon and I don't know what to do. I mean I know what to do, but I can't explain it incredibly well.
For example, I have ADHD, and I tend to make impulsive decisions that are sometimes crazy. Like the time I decided to just randomly graduate from high school a year early early. I had all the credits, so why not? But I was bored in my AP classes, and I was messing around with boys too much, and I was getting distracted from the Main Goal. But I had to make sure that I had all the credits ready, and plan for flexibility. The 4-year English requirement really got a lot of my friends who could graduate early. Or maybe they didn't want to graduate early.
Note 1. Know the rules. Figure out how to bend the rules. Enable flexibility in making choices.
Note 2. Know what the Main Goal is. Or at least know what your Main Goal is, and hopefully it isn't connected to your parent's Main Goal for you. Because you need to know how to make decisions at this point, and you get better at decision making by making decisions of all types. Including where to go to high school and college.
I couldn't have told you there was going to be an economic meltdown in 2010, the year I was supposed to graduate college when I graduated high school in 2005. I couldn't have told you that. If I could have told you that, you still wouldn't have believed me anyway. A lot of my classmates who graduated in 2010 ended up in some strange jobs. Like the ones that graduated from Stanford and Brown. I guess they didn't have strange jobs. But I can tell you that the Class of 2009 had better job uptake that the Class of 2010 (on average for law school, and averages tend to paint everything out anyway, including the outliers). I also couldn't have told you that I would have found my now-husband in the petroleum engineering department at Mines. We have two kids now. Yep, couldn't have told you any of that.
Note 3. Go with your gut. Make a decision, and don't look back for what could have been. That time has passed. Look forward.
All I can tell you during this talk is that do your best d*&#*$#( work now, and learn to learn for the sake of learning. Actually understand the basic physics of a system; don't just memorize all the equations on the sheet for Physics 1. Learn that math is a process, much like composing an English essay to get to some conclusion. This conclusion will hopefully inform the reader of something new, interesting, or exciting--adding "value" to somebody.
Note 4. Do your best work now, because your best today is only going to get better.
The last thing--do something that scares you everyday. Whether it's raising your hand in class, or writing a book, or taking the devil's advocate point of view during a class discussion--do something that scares you.
Note 5. Work everywhere you can (within the confides of the law. See Note 1).
I can't forget my career advice that I tell everyone now. Work everywhere you can so that you can gain better self-awareness for what you like to do. Volunteer at a hospital. Volunteer in a research lab during high school at the local college. Do something that matters to you, not just something that looks good on a resume. Look, it took me a year of full on lab research in the chemical engineering department at Mines when I realized that I didn't want to become a PhD chemist when I was a freshman in college. I did 4 hours in a friend-of-a-friend-of-a-friend's pharmacy to realize that I couldn't be doling out pills all day in a 10X10 room. I tried lobbying for six weeks and realized that I sucked at it. I worked in Gillette, Wyoming doing production engineering field work and loved it.
Islin Munisteri, P.E., is a petroleum engineer and author. Her new book, available from Amazon, is:
You Are Enough: A Manifesto for the Overworked and Overwhelmed.