Too Much Instruction is a Dangerous Thing: Helping Your Kids Choose a Path
Here she is, entering eleventh grade, and her father interrogates her weekly, “…so what do you want to major in and where are you thinking of going to college?”
We have moved ahead these last years. She no longer requires a winter temperature of 70 degrees as a college selection criterion. Her father has reduced his home lecture schedule on the importance of choosing a major by fifth grade and determining promising career paths. Some progress, at least.
But what is there to tell a son or daughter about the future, based on our own experience? Is any of that personal, bloody, often boring learning time relevant to the offspring?
Let’s see, what wisdom should I impart in my note in her lunch bag for the first day of college?
A Letter to My Dear Daughter on Her First Day of College
First of all, it is okay to admit that higher education is often drier education. Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers are not retiring to deliver any monologues in the classes you’ll be taking. There will be a few teachers who touch the soul, but many are on automatic pilot. So find the professors by the student grapevine that knows what they are doing and like doing it.
Get the classes you need to qualify for what you are generally aiming for. There is a great debate between education and vocational training, between learning to think and learning a skill. Both are necessary. Knowing computer programs and your way around the internet makes self-expression a whole lot easier. Using a computer makes writing a lot less laborious. At a more advanced level, keep checking to be sure you have the courses necessary to qualify for admission to the next level of study or the certificate and/or diploma required for practiced in the field of choice.
There is rarely enough said for steady persistence. Expect that a few people or committees will decide you don’t have “the right stuff.” Rejection hurts, but it doesn’t kill. Learn what you can from the disappointment. Even though your heart says no, share it with friends and family; it normalizes the experience and everyone has been rejected at one point or another in their lives. Remember, too, the length of this game is a lifetime and, if you’re going to play, it’s never too late to score.
Look at what works for you. Find your groove – it may take 25 years. There needs to be a match between what you do well (talent) and what you love to do (desire). Once you own that connection, good things will happen.
Finally, take the above and mix it with your own experience. Use what works and discard the rest.
Well, that is what I would put in the note for my daughter’s first day of college lunch bag; but what would you tell her? If you drop me an email, tell me your age so I can see if wisdom alters over time.