A small group of young men were talking outside the window. They touched upon trivial teenage items. And then finally one said: “Well, Summer Vacation is definitely over.”
You would have thought Doomsday had arrived. A pensive pall plunged upon the little group until one broke the silence.
“Aww, why’d you have to bring that up?” he said.
All of them were either in their last year of high school or packing off to college by the end this August and the beginning of September 2015, and were hence on the threshold of a new adventure.
A fellow wearing a tank top and a baseball cap backwards said it was good to get out of high school; college was going to be more fun. A dreadlocked young man wearing his football jersey said he hated school and would quit college in a New York minute if he became drafted by the pros. Another kid nursing a modified Fu-Manchu beard said he didn’t see having much use for school either. After all, he mentioned, colleges are graduating a lot of people with degrees for which there are no longer jobs in America these days, and, graduates are saddled with usurious student debt. Further, he said, look at the billionaires who skipped college, like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and Oprah Winfrey.
But the kid with the baseball hat disagreed. He said those folks are exceptions to the rule, and that most all of the world’s business and government leaders graduated college.
It was a sad little conversation fraught with young hopes, anticipation, apprehension, confusion and all of the little upsetting things which bridge the chasm from high school to college. Most of them would be leaving friends and thrusting themselves into a new world of total strangers.
Education Of Presidential Candidates
I would have to agree with the boy who had his hat on backwards. It appears all of the many 2016 presidential candidates are college grads. For example, Hilary Clinton (D) went to Yale law school. Jeb Bush (R) completed his coursework at the University of Texas in two and a half years. Rick Perry (R) went to Texas A&M. Bernie Sanders (D) went to Brooklyn College before transferring to and graduating from the University of Chicago. Donald Trump (R?) attended Fordham University in the Bronx for two years, before transferring to the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Worthy of mention out of the many are John Kasich (R) who went to Ohio State, and of course Martin O’Malley (D) who graduated from Catholic University and the University of Maryland law school.
Nonetheless, few students are initially fascinated by school, unless they are class-leader types and loaded with a competitive zest that makes them want to excel. Too few often realize college can be a one-trip journey that often affords no opportunity to turn back.
Young people of untracked purpose often look upon student leaders as “uncool” and, while they may be envious, scorn their achievements. So they go the opposite route. They conceal their failings by trying to be know-it-alls, particularly about subversive topics that are not taught, but maybe ought to be taught, in classrooms, like the socio-economic questions behind the proliferation of drugs. These, become their feeble bids to attract attention.
During the other day’s discussion I was tempted to go outside and put in a word or two. Not that I ever was a paragon of scholarship or perfect deportment when I went to school. But I did make that trip quite a while ago. And it was swift; all over and done with it before I realized what had happened. That eternity of “four long years” turned out to be a compacted minute.
The Most Important Thing
So I didn’t join the painful little discussion because an adult among teenagers cannot avoid being tabbed as an old-fashioned intruder. But if I’d had my say, I would have tried to tell them that the most important thing about this particular school year, is the very first week; and that the first week is exceeded in importance only by the first month. And that first month is vastly surpassed in importance by the first year.
I would have said;
“Think of school as a big game, for that is what it really is, and the person who gets off to a good quick start usually is the one who wins the race.
The ones who get off last often feel like quitting, and wish they hadn’t entered the race at all, and therefore hate what they are doing, and they finish if at all, only on the basis of an extremely perfunctory urge. The field is so far ahead at the finish they want to run off and hide, and they automatically drop out of sight.”
The Most Precious Of Years
I would have said; that the years of high school and college are very precious years, and should be regarded as such and handled with utmost caution and care. Sure, there is plenty of time for fun. It doesn’t have to be a hard grind. It is there for you to take and sweep through with ease. But if you want to make it hard for yourself, that’s the very easiest task you’ll ever perform.
Or, look at it this way: school means work, but it is very pleasant work, if you make it so. The hours are short and you have the whole of Saturday and Sunday to yourselves, plus long stretches of holidays you’ll never have again, unless you shape your futures right there in the classroom.
School is work, all right. But it can be made into a very exciting contest if you stay right up there with the leaders. You do not work for nothing, particularly in the classroom, because school pays off on a deterred payment plan. And the nicest thing about it, you can name your own salary when the pay days start coming. Name it and work for it and you’ve got it. The payoff can be large or small.
Just for fun, ask your parents a few things. They’re not really dumb, and they’re actually pretty nice when you get right down to it. Ask them about their schoolmates, where they are now, or where did they go and what are they doing. Then ask how they fared in school. They can check them right down the line, and they will recall that most all of those who hated school, didn’t do very well and tended to drop out of sight. They were the ones who didn’t study, and at times appeared to have hated themselves.
But what about your parents’ classmates who got straight A’s or maintained a B plus average? They will have trouble forgetting them because they are successful today, perhaps lawyers, or doctors, or distinguished engineers, or outstanding businessmen. Even today’s successful artists conducted their education with a discipline.
It is a simple matter. As easy as reading a baseball box score. The players who never made a hit, never won a game, and to hit a home run you have to swing hard!