Updated: January 23, 2012 3:24AM
When I was beginning my first year as a high school student, I remember my parents imparting to me that education was an important key to my future success. As usual, I pretended to listen intently, while all the time still caught up in my “I Can’t Believe the Summer is Almost Over Blues.” High school would present new challenges for me; I would no longer be going to a public school, but a parochial school for the express purpose of taking advantage of the educational benefits offered.
As much as I would like to end this foray into my scholastic past with a smile and a ray of sunshine that says my high school effort was one of fantastic grades and tremendous academic achievement, unfortunately, in the interest of a little thing called the truth, I cannot do so.
What I can say is that I regret not listening to my parents and realizing the stake I had in my own education. I managed to do average work, but that was due more to a lazy, lackadaisical attitude that believed the world owed me something because of my ethnicity and circumstance. I did not realize that not only was I a partner in my education along with my parents and teachers, but I was the most important partner. I give tremendous credit to my parents and teachers for opening my mind to the possibilities presented by learning, but I was and still am responsible for keeping the open mind sign in the window.
This is why with very little regard for feelings I say to every student ready to return to school after a summer filled with fun in the sun, or even difficulty at home, it is up to you to take advantage of and be responsible for your own education. Sure your life might be difficult beyond my imagination, nevertheless education presents you with the best earthly route to success.
I am not speaking to the very little ones whose minds parents and teachers must still shape toward education as a value, I am preaching to those who are old enough to know what you are doing in school and whether or not you are serious about learning.
It is to you that I repeat what a good friend told me that he heard from a good friend: “If you are uneducated then you will enter a world where the ignorant lead the uniformed.” This is the reality of your future without quality education. If you fail to study and apply yourself, then you will reap exactly what you sow: nothing.
I realize now, as someone who went back to complete college as an adult, the best time to get an education is when you are young, eager and most importantly, full of energy. As an adult college student, I cannot tell you the countless times when life simply intruded on my plans because of other responsibilities that demanded my attention. Family, work and the sort always or should always take priority in life and each brings its own agenda waiting for fulfillment. It is under these circumstances that being a student taxes the mind and body in a way that is difficult and harrowing. Get your education now while you are young; stay in school and excel in learning because being an older adult in college is good, but it “ain’t that cool.”
For those of you who want to know how to succeed in your education in a difficult circumstance of family, community or school district, I offer three important strategies. First, rid yourself of negative thinking. The Scripture says, “As a person thinks so they are.” This means if you think negative thoughts about how tough it is and how you will never make it, then it will be tougher and you probably won’t make it. Replace those negative thoughts with the belief that you will succeed, that nothing or no one on earth will stand in the way of your success. Believe in the power that exists within you, that God-given energy that makes you unique and dynamic in your own right.
Secondly, set goals. Goals that are realistic are necessary to keep you striving toward success. Don’t set the goal of being an astronaut and refuse to take flying lessons; it just won’t work. Set goals at every marking period. Remind yourself that a C on your grade sheet is simply a B that is hidden by the need for a little more effort on your behalf. When in doubt about a goal, see number one — you can do it.
Finally, rid yourself as much as possible of people who desire to fill your mind with negative thoughts, impossibilities and their own pain. If your boyfriend is a loser, dump him. If your girlfriend wants to limit your success, then tell her in no uncertain terms, “Hasta la vista, baby.” Negative people will limit your success. Pray for them, encourage them, but do not let them transfer their own negativity and pain to you.
Take responsibility for your own learning; be successful and work hard. When you do this, success will be yours. Have a great school year!