I said good-bye to my Jump Start students Friday for the second time. I taught them an oral communications class over the summer then returned to teach a journalism class over the winter break. In between the time I had seen them, they’d completed their first semester of college as part of the Jump Start program at Western Nevada College where high school juniors and seniors can take college courses.
If all goes as planned, these juniors I taught at Dayton High School will graduate from high school with an associate’s degree.
That’s the upside. The downside is college classes are hard. A handful of them didn’t pass their calculus class. Each of them had struggled with at least one subject.
When I got to them the second time, they were worried. Worried about passing their Jump Start classes. Worried about their future college experience. Worried about what life would bring.
These are students who are accustomed to excelling. Anything else is beyond imagination.
I understand them. I was them.
I was always at the top of my class academically, and there was a real pressure to stay there. I worried a lot. But I shouldn’t have. And neither should they.
I don’t know if I’ll teach them again, and if I don’t, I want to leave them with the lessons I have learned along the way.
YOU HAVE TIME
You always hear life is short. And it is (it doesn’t seem like that long ago I was sitting in your desks). But it’s also long. You don’t have to have it all figured out by 17. With life comes experience and with experience, you’ll know what you want to do with your lives.
There will be a lot of people telling you what you should do and how you should do it. They will point you to the well-worn paths society tells you must be taken to that elusive destination called success.
But here’s the secret. The only voice you need to listen to is that quiet one inside you that encourages you to forge your own path, to take risks, to do that thing that scares you and excites you all at once. No matter the cost.
FAILURE CAN BE FUN
When I was younger, I refused to try new things. I didn’t want to look stupid, especially not in front of other people. But then I realized it’s a lot stupider to limit yourself for fear of failure. And a lot more boring.
A predictable life may be safe, but it isn’t fun. Choose fun.
YOU’RE GOING TO BE FINE
That sounds trite, I know. And also like I’m just giving you platitudes. But I’m not. I’ve spent enough time with you to know you’re smart, and thoughtful, and engaging, funny, witty and insightful and kind.
A perfect grade-point average won’t get you through the struggles of life, but those attributes will.
You’ve got this. You just have to believe in yourselves — I already do.
Teri Vance is a journalist, freelance writer and native Nevadan. Contact her with column ideas at email@example.com.