Staying in the Race | Teen Ink

Staying in the Race

January 11, 2011
By hyoeunwoo SILVER, Seoul, Other
hyoeunwoo SILVER, Seoul, Other
9 articles 2 photos 0 comments

Favorite Quote:
Your biggest competitor is always yourself.

Students should learn early on that life is so much more complicated than they normally like to think. The smart ones, not in terms of grades, but the ones with survival instincts are usually aware of this head on and that’s what makes all the difference in terms of careers and successes. The key here is having specific goals/dreams. Most students have dreams of becoming something or of working at a certain field. And they like to follow the paths that would naturally lift them up and take them to that wonderland of a workplace after college graduation. Sadly, these dreams don’t usually come true because they tend not to be specific enough.

It all starts from knowing what you really really want. To have goals/dreams that are specific, you have to know your interests and strengths. From there, you decide on the possible career paths that you can take. You decide on these by considering only the fields that you’re really passionate about and, at the same time, where you’d do a good job working (considering your strengths. Be honest with yourself). Once you make a list of these possible career paths, you take time to think hard about each one, and condense the list into a few things. Then, you finally rank them and keep them all in mind, but from then on all your decisions are made based on your first and maybe also your second priority on the list.

That’s how you decide on which college, which major, and all that good stuff. You look at your list, at what you have (grades, extracurriculars, etc.) and think about what else you need in order to get into the school you’d like to apply for. And you spend your high school years trying to fill those gaps.

Those who don’t start from step one, tend to make the wrong decisions and end up going to the wrong school or choosing the wrong major. And this leads to failing college, whether in the literal sense or not. Sometimes the smart ones do this to, but they’re usually quick to find ways to change their situation to the better, because they know what their ultimate goal is. (They also refer back to the list in choosing what to do once and if they run into failures)

This is why having specific goals is important. Even if they run into failures, they don’t let their entire college experience become a failure, because they know what it is that they want ultimately. They don’t waste time on making choices but are quick to move on to an alternative that can help them achieve their ultimate goals. A person with specific goals in mind also knows exactly what they want/should try to get out of college and because of that, they don’t waste time and money on things that are comparatively less important but rather seize all helpful opportunities and make the most out of college.

So many young people today point the finger at their college education when they find themselves lost after graduation. They say it was such a waste of money and time and that it’s not helping them get any better jobs than if they had just started working after high school graduation. But that’s because they don’t realize that behind all that is them never having known what to expect of college and what to make of it in the first place.

I like to call kids with survival instincts ‘smart’ because we live in a world with more competition than ever before. And I really think that being aware of who you are, where your passions lie, and what your good at, is more important than getting good grades when it comes to success. After all, isn’t that really what life in this complex information society is all about? Always being aware of your own identity, and constant self-development?

The author's comments:
An article I read called "Reality Weighs Down Dreams of College" in USA TODAY(2005) inspired me to write this piece.

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