29 January 2006

Stuff I Wish I Knew Back Then

Last month, Scott Elliott of the Dayton Daily News wrote about the five things he wishes he knew about in high school. While Scott's list is good, and should be shared with high school students, it misses some of the things that I would include on my list. Of course, the one thing I know from working with high school students all the time, is that most of them would never heed any type of list like this....they already know everything! :)

  1. The people who sit at the "cool" table at lunch are no more or less likely to be successful than anyone else. Eliminate, just for a second, the need for 100+ definitions of success, and reflect on what you think/thought success is/was at the time. I know that I always thought that all the "cool" kids (no, I don't include myself in that crowd) would become doctors, lawyers, CEOs, etc. Without making examples of anyone I know specifically, let's just say that it ain't true. While being "cool" in high school is no sure fire path to a successful future, the skills that are developed at a young age can be applied to later challenges. Developing a good social skill set early can be helpful in creating positive relationships, good job skills, and a network of associates that may be able to help you in your career.
  2. Your friends in high school are not likely to be in your circle of friends in five years. I can count on one hand the number of people I have spoken with from my high school graduation class in the last 10 years. I moved away right after high school, so maybe that was the impetus, but I know of too many people who live local to their former high school and tell me the same thing. The friends who generally remain with you for life are the ones that you make in college. What's worse -- the people who haven't had too much happening since high school will only have those high school memories to talk about when they do see you.
  3. The person you are dating at graduation is not the person you are going to marry. Heck, it probably won't even be the person you are dating by the end of freshman year. OK...I realize that this is a percentage play here, but I am going with it. I can't tell you how many times I have seen people make their college choice based on where their high school boyfriend or girlfriend would be attending school. Invariably, boy goes to college with girl; girl realizes that college has LOTS of boys; girl dumps boy long before the "Freshman Fifteen" set in. The same thing happens in reverse. I found this blog entry while researching something else. Just read the first sentence and you will see that even sounds ridiculous to follow someone else off to school -- or stay home/close to home to be near your younger SO's senior year.
  4. Your senior year of high school may be the most wasted year in all your education. Between the prom, senior trip, the college application process, the short class schedule, "senior privileges," the job to help pay for your car insurance, and the general case of "senioritis" that inevitably sets in, what exactly do you learn in class? Further, many students don't want to risk hurting their GPA during their senior year, so they opt for an easier class load. One thing that I learned is that taking a year off (mentally or physically) from being a student is usually not the most prudent approach to successful college endeavours. Fortunately, that feeling is catching on.
  5. The New York State "Regents Diploma" means nothing outside of New York. In New York, the Regents diploma is pitched to students as an academic achievement. Some high schools actually "weight" the grades from Regents level courses, as though they are on par with honors or Advanced Placement courses. The reality is that it is no better, and in a lot of cases, worse than what other states have as a standard "college preparatory" curriculum. You can graduate with a Regents diploma without ever having taken courses in Precalculus, a language other than English or Physics. Of course, to get this Regents diploma, you do need two credits of Physical Education -- but, no Physics or Spanish. You can earn your Regents diploma by earning scores on the Regents exams no higher than a 65. You don't NEED a Regents diploma to graduate high school, either. You can take a lesser track, or score grades of 55 on the Regents exams and still graduate high school.
I am sure that there are more things that I wished I had learned in high school, but this will make for a decent Top 5 list for now. If you can think of others, please add them in the comments section.

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