A couple years ago, I mentioned that I failed high school psychology because I didn’t show up to class often enough. In high school, they actually track your attendance. In college, not so much – and that came with disastrous consequences for me.
I had kind of an odd curse: I was a sharp kid, so public high school didn’t present much of a problem for me. With hardly any studying, I did well enough to score a National Merit Scholarship, which at the time got you a full ride to a lot of different schools. I picked the University of Houston for their awesome business school, computer lab, weather, and location in a really big city.
My first semester went well enough:
I loved all but one of my classes, and that one – math – I abhorred. I’d done so well at high school math without studying that I figured I could just coast through college math. Wrong-o. I showed up for the first exam (after self-paced studying) and bombed it. I started attending again, and pretty quickly realized it was too late to learn to study.
In my second semester, things got worse:
I was up to two classes that I simply didn’t care about, and couldn’t be bothered to study. I hated math, and I wasn’t all that fond of science, either. I took geology because it sounded like the easiest one to pass. Rocks for jocks, right? Wrong again.
The great part about semester three is that even without math skills, I could calculate my GPA with ease:
I met a girl, and she didn’t wanna go to class, so I didn’t go to class either.
And that was that.
I can laugh about my poor life choices now, but at the time – well, actually, I laughed about them then, too. I knew they were bad choices, but they didn’t really have consequences. Life just kept on going, and it was lots of fun.
A year later, after the girl and I split up and I moved back in with Dad, I figured it’d be the responsible thing to do to go back to community college and knock out a degree. Thing is, I still hadn’t learned how to study:
And not only did I try to tackle boring geology again, but I tossed in Cobol and dBase for good measure, two subjects I just couldn’t care less about back then. (Or now.)
I can be all philosophical now and say entitled things like:
- High school should have taught me how to study
- College should have picked up that I was in trouble, and intervened
- I didn’t have any discipline or concepts of long-term gratification
- I should have taken a year off school to find a career that really excited me
But that’s greedy talk, and I don’t have any good answers. All I have is respect for parents and teachers as they try to steer kids toward doing the right thing while instilling them with discipline and a love for learning.
Me, I can’t even be bothered to train Ernie to sit.