As the summer winds down, the days get a bit shorter, the nights a bit cooler, and back-to-school-sale television commercials abound, I can’t help but be reminded of my own school days. Even though I wasn’t particularly stellar as a student, I did enjoy my time in school and I actually find myself missing those times, thinking of them fondly.
When asked I tell people that the most beneficial thing that I got out of going to college was the people that I met, the relationships that I forged, nearly all of them being long lasting and leading me toward opportunities in my life and career. I may not have made the Dean’s List or brought home the best grades, but being a student changed my life in a positive way and I am grateful I was able to attend.
I would like to speak right now to any young people who by chance may be reading my blog right now: We live in a complicated world, so much more complicated now than it ever was when I was a kid, and there are so many things out there vying for your time and attention. Between the bombardment of data from the internet and the media and the allure of “growing up” too fast by giving into sex, drugs and partying it’s so easy get lost and fall through the cracks.
Life is full of pressures from all different directions, trying to tell you who you are and who you should be, it can feel as though you have no say in the matter whatsoever. The truth is, there is no one in the world who can define who you are besides you.
My advice to you, kids of America, is to stay in school, work hard, get your diploma. It may not seem worth the trouble right now, but believe me – IT’S WORTH IT!
There will be plenty of time for girlfriends and boyfriends and falling in love. There will be plenty of time for hanging out with friends and having fun. There will be plenty of time in your life for working hard at your job and making money. Believe me, it’s the truth – you’re young and you’ve got PLENTY of time!
Now there is nothing necessarily wrong with any of these things in and of themselves, and for all of us there comes a time in our life when we want and need to experience some of these things. The point I’m trying to make is that education is and should always be the priority. With an education there will be so many doors open to you, which would otherwise be closed. With the knowledge and skills one gains from reading, writing, studying math and science and the arts, you are preparing yourself for a world that is ever changing and becoming more and more complex as the years go by.
All the things that are troubling you in your life right now will become so much simpler once you are able to focus and discipline yourself, to make the effort to do whatever it takes to excel and get ahead in your learning.
As I alluded to earlier, one does not even need to be the best student to better oneself. I brought home plenty of sub-par grades, in high school and in college, but I still went in everyday and tried. I made an effort and did my best, and in the end it paid off.
There was a time, not so long ago, when our fathers and grandfathers were just getting out of school, that they had a shot at getting a decent job in a factory with little or no education, no diploma, no degree, and they could still make enough money to buy a home, a car and to raise a family in a pleasant, middle-class suburban environment.
The sad truth is that those days are gone, and they are never coming back.
The world we live in today is more competitive than perhaps it has ever been in human history. If you’re not prepared to deal with today’s technology, economics, scientific, intellectual and cultural developments, then you will be left behind. Our country will be left behind.
Finally, I would like to offer up a bit of advice for the parents of America today. The most important thing you can do for your children is to spend time with them, talk with them, let them know that they are loved, that they are not alone and that they are someone who truly matters in this world. So many of the problems our kids face today can be made so much smaller and less threatening when the proper network of support from family and community is in place.
When I look at the state of the world today, I can’t help but be sad and a little afraid. We have so much at stake and so much to lose, and the only way we can really pull ourselves out of these dark times is to insure that our nation’s children, the future of America, are equipped with all that they need to make a brighter tomorrow.
Stay in school, kids, and stay focused.