Moving Up

Every time you moved up a grade, there were adjustments. Every time you moved school, those adjustments were somehow larger. High School was the best. College is very different.

Boarding school (if that was your experience) may have been a preparation of sorts: school and home rolled into one – but still quite regimented, very supervised. College is a huge adventure. A new home; new friends; new freedoms; new social life; no regular parental supervision.

You have earned your way to great schools with which you are very happy. You had some help from your parents, but – hopefully – the GPA and everything else was yours. In this sense, college will not be a big shock. You are accustomed to working hard. You will probably need to step that up a few notches, but that will not be new.

The level of expectation intellectually might be a surprise. Not in all subjects but in some. Be prepared to accept that you don’t know a lot, but know that you will learn, from your professors and your peers. This is truly exciting.

The bar is raised for every generation and you do get to stand on the shoulders of those who went before you to some degree. Assume your are supposed to be brilliant, to excel. There is no lesser assumption that will do justice to your potential. Seek out others who share that goal.

College – why and to what end?

Your goal is to become a fully functioning member of society, capable of supporting yourself (and whomever else you want or need to support) by adding value at least sufficient to sustain the lifestyle you desire and ideally commensurate with the talents you have been given and have nurtured. This is a journey that ends when you do. It has already begun.

College is an opportunity to launch at full speed. By now you are supposed to have discovered how to work hard and smart, to study to learn not just to pass exams and you may also have some sense of where your talents (and passions) lie. You have the opportunity to acquire knowledge and skills that will change your life.

Discovering knowledge is really standing on the shoulders of humanity’s efforts to explain and document the world and the full range of human experience. You will learn facts that will inform your actions and opinions. Be careful to sift and test. Be discerning in allowing information and the opinions of others to shape your world view. You will learn skills and practice them. All this becomes your personal brand: the sum of everything you are and have learnt and the promise of what that will become. Whether you work for yourself or for someone else, your brand is what will be measured in determining how you add value – to your own business or someone else’s.

College isn’t a destination. It’s a milestone. By all means take a breath. Review the achievement of a goal along the way. And then get moving. Remember, working hard and working smart are the means by which you bring your talents to fruition. There are no speed limits for personal achievement.

College is opportunity on steroids. It offers the courses, the teachers and a learning rich environment. The only bad school is the one where you fail to take advantage of the opportunity it represents.