Why Do We Pressure High Schoolers To Be Overachievers?
Rachel Kaplan
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Rachel — You are absolutely right, but the biggest issue is the very limited definition of “success” that people no longer even question — that success requires that diploma from a “top” university. Don’t believe it! Does that mean that anyone who WANTS to become a musician, or an actor, or a writer, or an auto mechanic, or an electrician, or …any occupation that doesn’t necessarily require that diploma is a failure? That college graduates are guaranteed financial success? That if you aren’t earning the big bucks, you’re a failure? (And let’s face it — some of the trades earn more than a worker bee in some big corporation!) Shouldn’t success be self-defined? A diploma gives you a chance to work for someone else — doing what you are told to do as you have been told what, when, and how to learn for 12 years! What’s wrong with working for yourself — with deciding what will make you happy and fulfilled. It’s not either or…your odds of doing well economically increase when you are doing something you love — something for which you have a passion — rather than trying to “live up” to someone else’s distorted definition of success.

I highly recommend the book The End of Average by Todd Rose. It will help you understand why “the system” of education doesn’t work, why the definition of one-size-fits-all success is fatally flawed. Rose also offers a much more enlightened and flexible way of becoming “certified” without that “essential” 4 year college education. Have you ever wondered why it takes 4 (very expensive) years to get that piece of paper no matter WHAT you are studying? There are MANY options once you allow yourself to think “out of the box” — a box constructed by others. That 3.42 is just a number — don’t let it define you!

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