I had heard from so many people that the first month of college is tough; that once you get through the first month the rest of the semester and year will be easier. Well, I don’t want to say that it’s been a month of all fun and games because there’s been a lot of homework, studying, floor meetings, club meetings, job interviews, work, and doing more walking than I’ve ever done in my entire life (but it’s good for me so I’m not complaining). On the other hand, there also has been some time for fun and “chilling out.” My number one advice that I’ve been told to follow is to not work too hard and to have some fun, so even though this is extremely challenging for me because I feel like I always have to be working in order to be successful, I’ve tried to implement a little fun in every day’s schedule. Be it playing cards with my neighbors, eating dinner with friends, watching movies, or walking around campus, its experiences like these that make college what it is. Everyone is given a clean slate in college, and as President Obama once said, “our destinies are not written for us, but by us,” and I think this quote sums up the powerful opportunity that exists in college. You decide who you want to be, and as Nick Portokalos put it in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”, “don’t let your past dictate who you are, but let it be a part of who you will become.”
I was told by one of my Journalism professor’s this week that the job that I’ll have when I’m 30 probably hasn’t even been invented yet. I was also told that by the time I’m 38 I will have changed jobs at least seven times. I was told that I should do at least three internships during college, learn a foreign language, study abroad, and have an extensive list of extracurriculars if I even want to be considered for an interview when I graduate. Hearing these scary statistics and widely held beliefs was the fuel to get me to understand the severity of what the job market will look like when I’m ready to enter it. Though my professor was speaking specifically about the Journalism field, the same can really be said about any field. What I’m trying to say is that high school students really need to start thinking about what they want to be when they grow up more seriously than ever before and I don’t think that it’s fair. Our parents didn’t have to know what they wanted to be doing for the rest of their lives when they were 16 or 17. Now, times are different. You need to hit the ground running, and if you don’t the person next to you will win the race and get the interview for a job before you.
My next biggest reaction was how open everything is. You can eat when you want, you don’t have to ask to use the bathroom during class or sign out, and it’s not a huge deal to switch out of a class or add a class; you can do it all online in five minutes. For seniors who are tired of the strictness of high school (which I don’t agree with but also realize that the rules that are in place have to exist) there are better things coming! Also, the UMass Amherst Alumni Association is deeply involved in student life on campus and giving back to the campus community. Alumni regularly come to campus to speak about their successes in their careers and offer tips on how to get jobs in their fields. The BMHS-HHS Alumni Association isn’t as involved in student life, but none the less is a great organization. My charge is for the Billerica alumni association to start to become more involved at the high school and educate students about who alumni are and what careers they’re in. Students are likely to be more motivated, in my opinion, if they can meet someone from their specific high school who is in the same career that they want to be in and to talk to them about the tricks of the trade. We have some really great and successful alumni in Billerica, and we need to start educating the community more about them. Along those lines, I would also like to see more career education electives offered at the high school in the near future. Most kids that I’ve talked to at UMass had them at their high schools, and I think the implementation of these kinds of classes into Billerica’s curriculum will continue to make it the rising star in education that it has become.
This column was originally written for publication in the Billerica Minuteman, the local newspaper for Billerica, MA. Please visit the Minuteman’s website at www.wickedlocalbillerica.com