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Advice For Students: Don’t Be Afraid To Dream

August 31, 2011 · 93 comments

in Misc Tips, Work

In less than a week, a new school year begins for my kids.

This is going to be a tough year for me, I already know it.  My oldest son is a senior and will graduate in June of 2012.  It is absolutely shocking to me how quickly these years have passed.

Right now, my son’s calendar is all filled up with soccer,  meetings with the college counselor, attending seminars on writing college essays, and seeing friends of his that will be leaving for college over the next few days.  Watching all the excitement of this phase of his life is a wonderful thing.  I look at him and I see nothing but opportunity.  He has the chance to go to a great college somewhere in a year and study any subject he wants to.  His future is entirely up to him at this point, and if he seizes the opportunities presented to him, he can attain just about anything.

Think About What You Want To Do When You Get Up In The Morning

So, the message in this post is for my son, and anyone else that wants to listen:  Take this time in your life to really sit and think about what you enjoy in your life.  While there isn’t a major out there for eating at Buffalo Wild Wings that I know of, there are most likely degrees available that tie to other things you enjoy.  Look at what you are naturally talented at and what you find interesting, and maybe even fun.  Make a list of those things, and then think of what degree programs might tie to those interests and what colleges have a good reputation for that degree.  Don’t just say ‘well, I am good at math at school, so I will become an Engineer’.  If you truly love doing math and actually understand what an Engineer does, then that is one thing.  It is another thing to base such an important decision just on what subject you get the best grades in without fully understanding what the major/career entails.

Remember, Money Isn’t Everything…

In addition, don’t base all your decisions on what income can be generated by obtaining a certain degree.  If you end up hating what you do, no amount of money is going to make you love your career or make you a happy person.  There are very few times in life where you truly start with a clean slate and have the opportunity to do anything you want to do. Do not limit yourself  by stereotypes of ‘well I can’t make much money with this type of degree’.  Or ‘I will never be able to find a job if I major in this…’.    If you have passion and talent, you can do anything you want to do.  I really think if you are driven to do a certain job and are enthusiastic and dedicated, the money will come.  Of course, if you plan on obtaining an obscure degree that does not have a lot of practical application, it might not hurt to double major or get a minor in something else you find interesting so you have a backup plan.  Whereas money isn’t the ONLY thing in the world, it is still an important part of life, and you do need to be able to generate an income.

Take Advantage Of Your Ability To Become Whatever You Want To Be

Overall, my general point is, really think about what you like to do each day already, and think about what topics in school capture your interest.  Your future is up to you, and there is no better time to plan it than when you are young and have no limitations.   This is your life, and only you know what makes you happy.  Of course, what you find enthralling today may not be what you enjoy tomorrow.  So, keep an open mind, be receptive to change, be willing to seek the advice of others if you need it, and enjoy the journey!

In the coming weeks, I will be having my son write guest posts that will cover advice for high school students, and he will also write about the college application process.  To all you readers out there, what would you like to hear about from the perspective of a 17 year old?   It doesn’t just have to be about school, if you want to hear about teen age drivers or whatever, leave a comment and we will try and get it covered.

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

MoneyCone August 31, 2011 at 10:38 am

Having your son guest post is a very unique idea! I for one, would like to know what does a 17 year old think about finance in general? Do they have a rosy picture of the future or are they less optimistic?


krantcents August 31, 2011 at 2:01 pm

Young people should explore every whim, interest or desire. Really explore it whether on the internet, talking to people in the profession or working in the industry. The more you know about your choice the better off you are. The next step is acquiring the skills to perform the particular career. It may mean college or trade school.


Kris September 1, 2011 at 3:44 pm

I agree KC, so much of the problem is that people don’t really know what they are getting themselves into. Sure, engineering might sound great because it pays well, but do kids really know what engineers do? Also, is there much of a market for certain professions in the US anymore? What was once a hot degree now many be overseas in a couple years.

It is a lot to take in for an 18 year old, that is for sure.


Jenna, Adaptu Community Manager August 31, 2011 at 4:39 pm

I couldn’t agree more! I have so many friends that graduated from college, picked careers based on how much money they thought they were going to make. Then a couple years later realized they hated what they were doing and are now going BACK to school to do something they love. Follow your dream, the money (or better yet the happiness) will come.


Kris September 1, 2011 at 3:43 pm

I know a lot of people that keep going to school too because they just can’t figure out what they want to do. I can guarantee computer programming is not my dream job, but it is providing some money so I accept it for what it is. However, if it was my ‘career’, I might go a little crazy.


Joe Plemon September 1, 2011 at 12:04 pm

As a retired engineer who chose his profession because he was good at math, I challenge your son and everyone else reading this to follow Kris’s advice to pursue your dreams. I never hated my engineering career; in fact I enjoyed it most of the time. But I was never passionate about it. My wife will attest that I would periodically ask her, “What do you think I will do when I grow up?”

Great advice Kris. Hopefully, you have inspired some young people to pursue their passions.

Looking forward to your son’s guest posts!


Kris September 1, 2011 at 3:31 pm

Thanks so much Joe, I am glad to hear other’s agree with my sentiment. I originally was going to be a math teacher because I loved math. However, as I got older, I didn’t really want to teach anymore, and math was getting kinda boring, so I switched to business. Now, I wish I had gotten a teaching degree, but in elementary ed! It is just so hard to know what you want to do when you are 18 years old, and I know I didn’t even put much thought into my major.

So, what will you do when you grow up? What do you wish you had gotten a degree in?


Joe Plemon September 1, 2011 at 3:57 pm

Kris…I think I finally know. It is what I have been doing consistently for many years: teach. I teach an adult Sunday School class. I teach FPU. I teach ALPHA groups. I have taught workshops on listening skills. I teach with my blog. I have the same passion for teaching today as I did many years ago. Funny thing though…when I was 18, teaching was the farthest thing on my mind.

Thanks for asking. You forced me to acknowledge the obvious in my life. I even told Jan that I finally know what I want to do when I grow up. She was not the least bit surprised.


Kris September 1, 2011 at 5:08 pm

So then, in a sense, you are doing what you always wanted to do, you just didn’t know it. Maybe because you enjoy it so much that it doesn’t feel like work?

Based on what I have read in your blog, I bet you are a great teacher in all areas.


Joe Plemon September 1, 2011 at 10:03 pm

That is a good way of looking at it. Teaching energizes me, so … no, I have never considered it to be work. Interesting. Almost a moment of “aha”!


Cherleen @ yesiamcheap September 6, 2011 at 5:07 am

I think that is what we should be teaching our children… Don’t be afraid to dream. Without dreams, there wouldn’t be any goal. Without goals, life may go astray. Of course, we do not want our children to lead a life of “What will be, will be.”


Kris September 6, 2011 at 7:31 am

You are sure right- I know plenty of adults that continuously live the ‘things will work out’ philosophy, and so far, things aren’t going so well for many of them. It is a great excuse to use and it totally removes the person from any sense of responsibility. (and drives me crazy)

Goals are a great thing to have. They may change over time, but having something that motivates you can make a huge difference.


formica countertops September 7, 2011 at 12:03 am

great post.. Without dreams, we couldn’t set any goals. Without goals, life may go astray.. keep posting its nice..


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