Skip to main content

The Least Helpful Advice: College edition

College tuition is in the news a lot lately and I've had some college-related stuff at work lately.  And then I wrote my last post about the least helpful advice I received as a teen and it got me thinking. 

There is a variant of this least helpful advice that also rears its head in high school.  It comes when guidance counselors are doing their thing regarding college choices and careers.  Now, I’m a pretty well rounded, “jack of all trades, master of none" type fellow.  That isn’t bragging.  I’ve often longed to have some overwhelming natural talent to direct me.  And as a result of what boils down to “be yourself” when choosing a college or career, this lack of direction gave me fits.

I’m 37, and have had what amounts to 3 careers.  I'm pondering a fourth.  And that isn't because I'm the untethered, wandering type; if anything, I'm the exact opposite.  Nor have the career changes come as a result of job losses.  All of the careers were tangential to each other and I've had access because I have lots of interests and a bevy of skills that make me passable in lots of different occupations.

But the down side to that is this: How, in high school, was I supposed to decide what career I might enjoy when I’m still sorting that out 17 years later?  And how do we expect any person to make an informed decision about a college?  We put so much pressure on choosing a college.  I remember the pressure acutely.  The pressure to choose a school you’ll enjoy; a quality school; a school with your major.

Having been to college, I ask this: how can we expect a high school student to make an educated decision about something about which they have absolutely no foundation to make?  It would be like asking you to pick where under the ocean you’d like to live.  Sure, you could make some fantasy guess - the shallow waters are nice what with their coral reefs, but then again, the trenches provide such unexplored depths - but that is exactly what it would be: a fantasy-based guess.  

So why are we putting so much pressure on this decision?  Shouldn’t we just tell the truth: that you should probably just pick a school whose campus you feel comfortable with and you can always transfer later.  Wouldn’t this make more sense then imposing a “choose or die” atmosphere that forces kids to feel like they have to drop out of school if they hate their choice?


Popular posts from this blog


A couple months ago I posted about a push up challenge, and at the risk of pushing this blog into a self-help section, I'm going to post something else that I really enjoy that I think might help a reader or two (all two of you!). currently runs what it calls "Mid-Week Meditations," which is a short story on some piece of ancient wisdom.  Oooohhhhhhh, its ancient.  Just so you know, I'm not one to fall for the whole "ancient" is best meme.

But this is legit good stuff.  They take a quote or concept from a philosopher in the past - think Marcus Aurelius - translate what the sometimes mumbo jumboish phrase means, and then kind of detail how you can apply it.

This week, its all about how to train your mind for constructive thinking.

One thing I love about the series is that it doesn't dress up the knowledge too much.  It doesn't make it out to be more than it is, or suggest that its great simply because some Greek guy said it 2,000 years …

Why I Gave Up My Opposition To Pink

When I first joined the world of Dad blogging I couldn't help but notice that lots and lots of Dads who blogged hated the way they had to dress their daughters.  There were plenty of articles in the mainstream press on the same issue.  Mommy blogs jumped in as well.

Were we limiting our daughters, or worse yet, damaging them, by dressing them in pink?

I was certain that society limits girls, telling them both subtly and not-so subtly that they can't do certain things.  And sure, an adult is free to do whatever an adult wants, but once those signals are broadcast its hard to overcome, especially when those signals are received early and often.

Now, my daughter wasn't going to run into quite the same situation, because she has to brothers the exact same age so they pretty much all play with the same stuff.  The boys play with Minnie and she plays with trains.  Though, somehow, she shows more interest in Minnie and baby dolls and they have more interest in trains.  Maybe I…

Is Mocking Redheads Bullying? If Not, What Is?

Its Super Bowl time, and since my team didn't make it, I haven't been paying very close attention.  But I got to talking with Aaron Gouveia on Twitter after I noticed one of his tweets about how a redhead would never QB a team to said Super Bowl.  Essentially, Aaron was mocking redheads.  My team doesn't have a redheaded QB, so we are safe (for now!), but I mentioned to him that this might fall under the term of bullying.  Aaron, in case you don't know, is rightfully well known in the Daddy-bloggersphere for his excellent Daddy Files blog.  Seriously, go read it now, and follow @DaddyFiles on Twitter.  And before I really get going on this rant, let me say: I get it.  Even as great as Gouveia is, he probably can't hold candle to the prestige, money and social status of a Pro-Bowl NFL player like Andy Dalton.  Andy Dalton could never do another thing in the NFL and probably still have more name recognition, money and power than Gouveia ever will.  This isn't exa…