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For High School Graduates: Education First, Career Second

GraduationIt’s here again: High school graduation season — that annual rite of passage for high schoolers coast to coast to embark upon that much-anticipated journey from home to that first true independent step outside the safety net of their childhood communities.

What always amazes me is the pressure high school kids feel as they embark upon this journey and how often I hear these kids express anxiety over not knowing what they want to be “when they grow up.” And, let’s not forget that we are still talking about kids — these are still teenagers, still developing and maturing.

The oldest of our teens have not yet become full adults yet, but they are very close. One of the developmental tasks of college, in fact, is to help these older teens make the transition from being a teenager to becoming a true young adult, around age 20 or 21.

I’ve often explained to parents and teens that college is about exploration and is very much a time to come into your own and sort out who you are and what you’re about, much more than figuring out your career path or life’s ambition. For many young adults, that can take many years after college is completed to sort out.

So it was a relief to me when Andy Rooney on CBS News echoed these same concepts as he was reading his viewer mail during his April 3, 2010 broadcast. During that broadcast, he read the following letter from a woman named Melanie:

“What I think America needs is for fewer people to go to college and for there to be more opportunities for people who prefer to make things.”

Rooney’s response was a simple one:

“Good letter, Melanie, but most people don’t go to college to learn how to do something. They go to college to get educated.”

Wise words we should all encourage every high school student to aspire to as they try to get into college and as they explore their college years. They have the rest of their lives to figure out the rest.

*This blog post was originally published at Dr. Gwenn Is In*


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