The future is bright: Back-to-school advice

For the first time in my life that I can remember, I won’t be going back to school this fall. It’s a weird feeling — and for me, it’s a little sad.

School supplies, new teachers and planning out my outfits were all the hype and anticipation back in middle school. Learning new subjects was fun — most of the time, anyway. Classes always offered new challenges to get smarter.

The best part of school for me wasn’t just about learning formulas, studying flash cards and memorizing random pieces of information. Don’t get my wrong, I liked that part, too. I even made myself tests during a few summers so I could continue learning when school wasn’t in session. But the real value in school for me was finding a love for learning.

A good education is the foundation for a quality life.

Any chance you get to become more educated and more informed is good in my book. By the way, being a news consumer is part of that, but I digress.

Whether a student is entering kindergarten or perhaps their last year of college, school can and should teach them a lot more than book smarts. My education taught me to be a life-long learner.

I have a few pieces of advice for students heading back to school and I hope you’ll share yours, too.

1 — It’s about the journey, not the destination.

One of the best pieces of advice a mentor has given me was to focus on what was possible right now. That’s not to say don’t have a goal because goals are extremely motivating. They give you something to work for. It simply means that sometimes you don’t know where you’ll end up or you don’t even know where you’d like to end up.

It’s OK not to have a plan for where you want school to take you, so long as you take opportunities to make yourself better than you were the day before. If you do that, the destination will be exactly where you are meant to be.

2 — It’s as important to know what you don’t like as it is to know what you do like.

You may have no idea what subjects interest you most or you may have a very specific job you eventually want to have. The reality is, most people fall somewhere in between. Maybe you don’t know what you like. So what? It’s important to give things a try so you can have a better understanding of what something actually entails and cross anything off the list that doesn’t fit you.

3 — Learning is cool and it’s also hard.

Learning isn’t always portrayed as the popular thing to be doing. Here’s the thing, though, learning is cool. It might not seem like it while you’re in school, but caring about your education and trying to become more informed will make your life better down the road. And it doesn’t come easily. Learning is challenging and it often means making mistakes, but don’t let that deter you.

4 — Learn from people.

Perhaps the best way to learn is from people around you. Learn about beliefs that are different from your own. Learn about different cultures and backgrounds. Look beyond the surface and find out why someone is the way that they are. You might find out more about yourself that way, too.

Good luck to all those starting back at school. Happy learning!

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‘The future is bright’ is a bi-monthly column from T-R News Editor Emily Barske focusing on young people, innovation and civil discourse.

Have a suggested topic or feedback? Contact her at ebarske@timesrepublican.com or 641-753-6611.

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