Left Behind? 4 Questions To Ask When School Is Failing You
A recent duo of articles in the Washington Post detailed the issues of John Lazor, a former special education student, who had difficulties staying awake in class. John was interested in the TV show Monster Garage and wanted to learn more about welding. However, the course that would have helped — an automobile repair course — did not allow students with learning disabilities. Lazor eventually dropped out of high school and pursued another path. Today, he’s a 26-year-old master technician living in Boulder, Colorado.
The system clearly failed, but the student didn’t. And that got us to thinking about what you can be doing to take charge of your education. Simply blaming the system you’re in or the teacher or principal or superintendent won’t do anything to bring you closer to success. Instead, you must know what opportunities are out there and how they line up with your passions. A recent Georgetown study confirmed that you no longer need a college education to make a good living. In fact, some careers without college are paying out better than bachelors degrees. But it still requires hard work, training, and a commitment to be the best at your chosen career path.
There may be people with higher IQs or more advantages than you, but this is still a great country because it allows you to find what it is that you’re the best at and accomplish great things. Here are some questions to ask if you’re concerned that high school isn’t offering you enough options.
If you had all the money you would ever need, what would you do with your free time?
Be honest about this one. We all have things that interest us. Maybe they’re not things we like to talk about around other people for whatever reason. Perhaps you don’t think your buddies will connect. Maybe it’s too difficult explaining it to others. Point being, you could answer this question, “Lay around on my butt and do nothing all day,” but you know as well as we do that you’re a more exciting person than that. And maybe that’s the question you should be asking instead — what excites me the most?
When I’m in school, what would I rather be doing?
Let me cut some of you off right here because I know what you’re going to say: “Sleeping.” Yes, we all go through that stage, and truthfully, there are some days, even when you’re doing what you love, that you’d rather be sleeping as well. But you’ve got to wake up eventually, and when you do, something will be there to command your time. Maybe it’s working on your car or pickup truck. Maybe you’d like to write the Great American Novel. Maybe you like to design your own buildings and houses. Life is a training ground from which you never stop learning, so feel free to engage the “you” that you’d like to be now, even if it’s just drawing a few things on a sheet of notebook paper or working on an old wrecked-out car in your dad’s garage. If school isn’t holding your interest, that doesn’t mean you’re an uninteresting person. It means you have to find what ignites your passion to know more, and then you need to pursue it.
How do my interests carry over into the real world?
When I was a kid, I had a weird habit of designing my own television networks. I would leave no stone unturned. We had original programming, movies, sporting events, and even a building of operations. And “we” were completely imaginary. Yet the programming guide wasn’t. Over time, you make peace with the things that make you strange, and you even start to see that they’re not so strange at all because there are applications in the real world that tap into that childlike imagination. I’ve never gone on to create my own television station, but I do indulge my creative passions on a daily basis. Writing for sites like this one, creating news content for The Inquisitr and Tekkek, authoring the occasional book or screenplay. Everything that I’ve done to make money in the last four years can be traced back to some of those weird, dumb, fun things that I used to do in the boredom of summer. If you’re reading this, you’re old enough to know about foresight, and how to use it for determining how your talents translate into an actual profession. My suggestion to you: once you’ve found that translation, pursue it.
What does the data say?
While it’s important to follow your passions and to jump into an educational (and career) path that will bring out the best in who you are as a person, it’s also important to know what the data says about your chosen career path and what you can expect should you choose to pursue it. A separate Georgetown study from the one linked earlier in this article gives you the skinny on what you can expect to make in a number of majors from the time that you graduate. The range is something like $29,000 to $120,000 with psychology and counseling careers on the weak end — these typically require masters degrees and PhDs for anymore than that — and engineering majors on the high end. And not to forget the previous study, a number of vocational certificates will earn you way better than the paltry $29k number. Be smart about how you pick out a career. It could be that many of the qualities that you would use in a lesser major might come in handy with a field of study that has a more promising future.
The world is changing rapidly, and even though there’s more competition than ever before, there is also more opportunity — more ways of finding a home, and ways to make money, from your talents and interests. And people who find a way of doing what they love are successful no matter what the numbers on the front of the paycheck state. What does your future hold?