The Point of the Arts and Developing Hobbies

Sometimes we just love a certain subject, thing, or activity. When I was in college, I was a business major. I loved my literature class. I had notes in the margins of my large textbook. The color and feel of it resonated with me. Abstract cover art was the hook. The stories were great and gave me much to analyze. Even now, it astounds me how a collection of short stories can move me. Authors I don’t recognize present unique tales and perspectives, especially across cultures. The world has plenty of writers and filmmakers, too, but I digress.

The English Contractor

I wasn’t an English major initially because my dad said the world had an excess of those. That included teachers. As a business major, I liked what was involved. It used the administrative skills that got me jobs. I imagined being an independent contractor in demand, sporting pastel suits and a briefcase. Whatever I did would succeed. What’s more, I would like it.

Math Motivation

Math had been the bane of my existence for years during K-12. Every time I found my rhythm, it wasn’t because I liked math. It was to avoid consequences. I regarded no principal or detention the way I feared my parents. School staff and faculty—not my parents—were nice, polite, and gentle. Math was another chore.

Art Bandages for Geometry

I adored high school geometry. It wasn’t like algebra. Proofs occasionally drove me crazy. They wanted me to prove the obvious. Sometimes my answers were wrong, and I couldn’t always see why. Then I took Algebra II, a haze of more mathematics than I could ever need. My painting and drawing class prevented impending insanity. Art healed better than aloe vera.

Math Genius Jokes

Once the math was under control, I got a crazy idea. Again, it was from my father. “You could be a mathematician.” He had (and still has) such high hopes for me. Being good at math could work well. I changed my major to math.

When the Faking Pays Off

As a result, I had to take precalculus. I was a sophomore. As a freshman, I barely passed trigonometry because my freedom rivaled my academic discipline. There was an unspoken old-school mantra: “Take as many math and English courses as possible.” No one told me that its success in the workforce required a major in one or both. I hated the volume of precalculus homework for two to four points per assignment.

Discipline v. Love

I don’t remember when I bought the book on mathematicians. It explained the differences between applied math and pure math. All of the people featured loved one or the other. I didn’t love math; I was just good at it. I mastered things because I learned subjects well. What was wrong with exploiting my math? Did I have the proper motivation? I eventually got rid of the book. The square peg-round hole feeling appeared whenever I browsed it.

Distractions v. Hobbies

My point is that I had varied interests during the pursuit of a degree. Those distractions could be culled into hobbies. I admire those who take a topic so seriously that they develop them. That’s despite compensation, which, for hobbies, may be zero. They can be done for the joy or satisfaction they bring. Either way, a hobby is something done for oneself.

Advertisements

Why There Shouldn’t Be a Stigma Regarding Do-Overs

Is repeating a grade such a bad thing? Flunking is an ugly but honest word. Being held back is a gentler truth. It still exists. It’s a temporary setback for the greater good. At some point, neither it nor the deficit will show. That’s the basic idea behind tutoring and summer school in the first place. Both options keep the student on track for promotion or graduation.

 

Repeating a Subject

Then there’s repeating one course. Many students sweat the months of April and May each year. “Am I going to pass?” Passing is about pride versus humiliation when there’s a lack of planning. This was true when school used to start in September as a rule. Even with an extra month in the school year provided by starting in August, it remains. Their concern abides over at least one subject late in the school year despite many advantages. The fall semester ends before late December, which allows a truly relaxed winter break. Spring break is at least a week long, maybe two in some places. There are assorted holidays within the school year that generally aren’t observed in the world of work.

 

Tutoring

As previously mentioned, of course, there’s tutoring. It’s free via the school district. Others opt to pay for the service. Tutoring can prevent repeating a course or grade. Done in second semester, it is ideal for topics taught in that time frame.

Unfortunately, there are two ways this can go. One is that it can make the difference. The other is that depending on some things, it may not.

Tutoring agencies give pretests that identify deficits. A student with fifth grade level math skills during seventh grade may not pass. It’s unlikely that he will learn two years’ worth of material in two months even with daily tutoring. It’s normally done two or three times a week to avoid dependency.

The question becomes whether to fill those gaps once and for all or aim for homework help. The former will involve a massive effort that falls short. The latter choice prolongs the suffering.

 

Looking Forward

If a student has several years of basic education left, repeating a course would do her a great favor. For one, it would end the revenge of knowledge gaps in the applicable subject. She could move forward into successive courses with confidence. Even with only a few years of school left, graduation and getting a job proves the goal was met. Except for college entrance exams and certain jobs, only basic math is required for adults. Remedial courses are another option.

The Overlooked Link Between School and Work

Education is introduced as easy yet soon becomes grueling for many. Kids can’t leave K-12 curriculum. So some of them suffer through it. There are programs for those who struggle.

The School-Work Association

School is preparation for work. That’s obvious. Unfortunately, the details are overlooked. Most people work day shift jobs. Kids attend school within the same time frame. In both scenarios, attendance, punctuality, obedience to authority, development, and performance are emphasized. They get graded on it. Employees get paid for it. If those principles are violated, kids get detention, phone calls to parents, or suspensions. When workers do it, they get counseled, written up, or terminated.

A Bad Fit

Professionally unhappy adults continue gagging on bad jobs or wrong jobs because of the money. No wonder adults tend to hate (or dislike or remain unchallenged by) their work. They tolerate the wrong positions for too long (or at all). Kids unknowingly pick up on parents’ hidden feelings and opinions. Then they subconsciously emulate that behavior. Parents rarely tell children a bad fit exists.

Most parents wait until high school to pressure kids into choosing a career. That’s probably because the schools emphasize it then. If they dread the world of work, why wouldn’t their kids?

Oh, the Fear

Kids so fear disappointing parents academically that they’ll lie to avoid it. It could be about wanting to enroll in college. Maybe it’s about what jobs they want. They’ll say they’re aiming for the moon. It’s to relieve the pressure on them. They don’t realize that it doesn’t end. The parental pressure matures into professional pressure from peers and bosses.

On the upside, parental opinions matter to them. On the downside, they don’t think parents will accept disagreement on one of the biggest decisions in life. They also fear the consequences of standing by their words. Again, school is preparation for the workforce.

Prevention

They shouldn’t have to suffer like this. We should be interested in directing them toward fulfilling work. Adults’ negative experiences in the professional realm don’t have to be theirs. A parent would have to construct a plan to change careers. Kids wouldn’t. To qualify for a dream job, Mom or Dad may have to volunteer or take a second job. Kids wouldn’t have to do anything that would jeopardize their personal relationships.

Think of all the things that would be asking a lot (or too much) of an established adult. Starting over, becoming the newbie, and internship are actions kids can safely take now. It’s early, so they are like blank slates. They have long futures ahead of them.

Conclusion

When they first start having academic problems, hire that tutor. Enroll them in summer school. Don’t wait until it is a gargantuan, costly task requiring surrender. Give them assessment and personality tests. They’ve probably got a marketable job skill they wouldn’t hate to use. With the proper launch, they’ll land on the moon.

7 Reasons to Take Assessment Tests

In high school, the pressure to be decided about life looms like a cloud.

  1. “What should I do for a living?”
  2. “What should my major be?”
  3. “What kind of job should I get?”
  4. “Should I have a job, a career, or both?”
  5. “What is the difference between those?”
  6. “What if I don’t want to go to college?”
  7. “What are all of my options?”

Students are tasked with a great deal of testing, usually to determine their readiness and the school’s performance. There is one test that doesn’t get taken. It’s an assessment test.

Assessment testing is widely varied in type and purpose. The short story is that these tests help students decide what they could do for a living. Based on what they like, what they know, or what traits successful employees in a certain industry display, these tests can take the stress out of choosing majors, jobs, and careers. In other words, they test personality and skills.

The ASVAB

One well-known assessment test is the AFQT/ASVAB used for military candidates. It is a fairly thorough examination of a person’s knowledge in a number of areas. It tests for mechanical and mathematical knowledge, among other things. Each section of the test equates to a specific industry. The idea is to be assigned to the area with the best score. It almost ensures good job performance. Even better, this can be used to measure IQ. In an ideal situation, the selected military job will translate to successful civilian employment.

The different areas of the ASVAB test mechanical skill, math, science, and several other subjects. Each of those represents a group of numerous, fairly secure jobs that military members get paid to learn. This can be a boon for those with little or no work history. Career advancement can be easier as well.

Whether contracted for two years or 30, a military veteran has considerable professional knowledge compared to many civilians. The longer they served, the more they know. According to Rhett Jeppson, Associate Administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Veterans Business Development, 45% of all veterans are more inclined toward business ownership.

The Human Metrics Jung Typology Test

For those uninterested in the military, there is the Jung Typology Test http://bit.ly/J4YZCY. It pinpoints the personality type of the test taker. With that, decisions can be made about majors and jobs and careers based on the best fit for the type of person. There are four types, two of them introverted, two of them extroverted. Basically, the other factors are whether or not the person is a thinker, a judger, a sensor, a perceiver, or a feeler. Each possible combination of these aspects creates a different personality and outcome assigned to appropriate industries. Various personality tests are available at http://www.humanmetrics.com.

No Faking Necessary

Anyone can don a façade and say he plans to go to USC or become a doctor or engineer. Why USC, one of the more expensive universities, which is private, by the way? Most people don’t have the longevity or persistence to become doctors. What kind of doctor? What type of engineer? The vague answers to those questions—along the lines of “I don’t know yet”– reveal the truth, which is that it was simply talk.

Assessment tests can identify the true interests of students. People settle for good pay on jobs they hate everyday. What’s more, they are stuck in them if they have families. Despite that, why refuse to explore other possibilities? That doesn’t require quitting or taking on the lifestyle of a starving artist.

The best thing about assessments is that they can help the test taker narrow down the many choices they have. They are necessary. How else is a student supposed to be motivated enough to do what it takes to succeed?

Some people just want to get a job. A career is a better choice because at some point, advancement or ambition is expected or required to stay valuable to an organization. Assessment tests help by addressing both situations at a foundational level.

The Official Site of the ASVAB Testing Program. http://official-asvab.com/eligibility_res.htm

The Human Metrics Jung Typology Test, http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp

Human Metrics, http://www.humanmetrics.com

Rhett Jeppson, Associate Administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Veterans’ Business Development.

Albert R. Renteria, Founder and CEO at Albert R. Renteria Corporation and Southwest Veterans’ Business Resource Center.

20 Things We Forget About College

As parents, we forget some things along the way to launch our little adults into the world. Maybe we didn’t know these things in the first place. There’s no doubt that we haven’t always shared the workforce changes that are clear to the experienced.

IMG_1914

  1. The most important thing is to research and choose a career. That will tell them if college is even necessary to achieve it. It usually isn’t for the first few years or more on a job.
  2. Accept that they may want jobs of which you don’t approve. In other words, they may not require college.
  3. They can have a gap year. They’re usually more interested in becoming free adults than in more school. This also helps if they’re undecided about a career.
  4. They shouldn’t be undeclared. Before you say it worked for you or someone you know, check the stats on that path. The time and money spent are non-refundable. Do more of them complete a program or drop out of college? If they graduate, how many of them don’t change careers by age 40? Did they finish under outside pressure or did they reach a professional conclusion? How much do they make in comparison to those who followed through from the start?
  5. Some students drop out despite talking a good game. Find out why. Living someone else’s dream, losing sight of a goal they don’t fully support, and hating school are a few reasons.
  6. College doesn’t take all day. This means that full-time students’ courses generally take less time out of the day than high school did. That leaves time for everything else—part-time work, socializing, studying, and sleep. High school students wish the school day ended at noon. In college, the schedule can be arranged to facilitate that.
  7. They should work part-time and only in jobs pertaining to their majors. The advantage is that they can do it part-time, which is anything less than 40 hours a week. Sure, we know that, but where does it show? Anyway, no more of those Starbucks jobs to pay their share of the rent. Unless their career focus is on finance or retail…This era of their lives may be the only instance where they can risk this.
  8. It isn’t a magic bullet anymore if it ever was. Have we forgotten that if most people send their kids to college, more of them will end up closer to the bottom of the pyramid than the top?
  9. They may not make big bucks. The idea is to avoid poverty, not to keep up with the Joneses. We lose sight of that.
  10. We’re being vicarious and using them to achieve what we didn’t. There’s a lack of objectivity there. At some point, their dreams for themselves outweigh our dreams for them. Let go. The kids can handle it. We raised them, didn’t we? Meaning well but should step aside.
  11. Get an associate’s degree (or a certificate) along the way. Somewhere this can pay. Get all the gems possible while running from the monster. Isn’t that in a video game?
  12. Find an employer who will pay for that associate’s degree (or certificate). If they do make enough to be independent, the goal has been met! More college is optional then. Breaks are allowed.
  13. We don’t suggest that they act like adults even though that’s what they are. They can choose which days they attend school. Not having to go daily is a plus.
  14. Majors matter. They are not arbitrary. Some pay more. Others will compensate them well regardless of a lack of experience.
  15. We stress the four-year degree yet frown on the certificate and associate’s degree. Some students only have enough motivation to achieve one of these. If so, let it ride. It’s their truth, not ours.
  16. We hiss and throw the stink eye at vocational education because of for-profit schools. There are other places to get it. High schools and county government agencies are two examples.
  17. Employers pay for college. Encourage them to get jobs in industries they like. Anything can happen if a job (or culture) is the right fit.
  18. Have them find mentors for the careers they think they want. Do this whether they work, volunteer, or intern. These people can tell them if and when a degree will be necessary. It also initiates professional networking, which has proven success.
  19. It’s not all about making money. Telling them to aim for the highest of incomes could promote greed and materialism. Money doesn’t solve every issue. It can also create new ones.
  20. They can afford to make half of what you think they should. Roommates make this reasonable. Neither scenario has to be permanent.

Did I miss anything? Do you disagree? Was I clear? Tell me in the comments.

Why People Support College by Default

It’s time to talk about the $40,000 bet. You know…putting up a large sum under the premise that college equals life success for students. That’s a concern for those who avoid gambling (or should). Much hype is behind this tradition, including the SAT, ACT, extracurricular activities, and tons of academic pressure throughout high school. The truth is more detailed but less complicated.

Parents think they have to fund higher education. They seem to forget employers can also do this. Of course their employers can, but how about their kids’ employers? Mom, Dad, and teachers all know about the job market. The rose-colored glasses show up when they talk about their children. Undeclared is a bad idea to back with that much money. Community college isn’t the punishment or hindrance some believe.

As is true for high school graduates, college success depends largely on the major and what experience is or isn’t gained in the pursuit of it. Exceptions do exist.