So my daughter is about to finish her Freshman year in high school. Since my son is in a small private high school, this is my first exposure to publics at this level. All I can say is: What a pressure cooker – and for what?? These kids are pushed and pushed to take more honors course, take more APs, get into a great college. I thought a great college was one where you felt safe, comfortable, and were offered a good education in your field of interest? And who ever said college is for everyone? When your toddler flushes a toy truck down the toilet, you’re not calling an Ivy League lawyer are you? When your freezer breaks, threatening to ruin all the gourmet meats you just brought home, are you calling Harvard for recommendations?
The reality is, there ARE jobs out there, even in this tough market. But if you majored in art history or lesbian womens’ studies (not that there’s anything wrong with that), those jobs might be few and far between. A close friend of mine looked my daughter in the eye and said “Pick something you love, strive to be the best at that, and the money will follow”. If I had to choose one piece of advice to give to the youth of today, his words would be it. I would also add that one needs to be realistic about those goals, i.e. if you decide on acting as a career, you might not be leading man/woman but there are tons of character roles out there. People make quite a nice living in Hollywood NOT being a leading man/woman. Embrace that.
Most importantly, never, ever be arrogant. Understand that no job is beneath you. There will always be someone willing to do what you won’t, and it’s those people that will be noticed, not you. Always be willing to lend a hand and for gosh sakes, if you notice something that can be improved, make suggestions and work to do so. The worst that happens is you are wrong, but I guarantee you any good management team will be glad you tried. And if they aren’t, they are telling you something very important about the company environment – heed that warning!
These are things you will never hear in public school. Reason being, is that public schools are now teaching to the tests, in our state, the SOLS. When your kids pass that SOL , the school district gets prestige and often times, that translates to a bigger budget and higher salaries. The schools push and push because the better you look, the better they look and it doesn’t matter if they are driving you into the ground in the process. In addition, there are quotas and state regulations and even federal regulations, all designed to make it easier for some to get into a particular college and in the process, make it more difficult for others. Understand that you have no control over this, so simply do your best and strive to be more well-rounded. There are plenty of good colleges out there ready and willing to give you a great education. It’s up to you to take advantage of what they have to offer. Ultimately, it’s your life, not theirs.