I grew up in Newton. One of the best school systems in the state. I got a tremendous, well rounded liberal arts education in high school. As I look back, one of the few failings of the Newton School System was that no one ever encouraged me to really think about what I wanted to do for a career or have me reflect on how my passions and my talents might converge to allow me to make a living.
We were solidly middle class. My Dad was a high school english teacher and administrator. My mom took a bunch of years of but was a graphic designer. My Dad went to Brown and my mom went to RISD. (That’s where they met.) All my friends parents were doctors, lawyers, therapists, engineers, professors, judges, or the like. All very traditional career paths that involved college and mostly grad school. But I never really thought about how one gets there. I just put my head down and tried to make the best of my high school education, all the while hoping things would get more interesting and relevant in college. They didn’t.
I don’t necessarily have any regrets. I’m happy with my life. But it was a grind to get here. I wonder what life would have been like if I’d done culinary right out of high school. What if I’d learned to be a carpenter and owned my own contracting business. What if I’d been exposed to other white collar jobs that were more specialized. I have a friend in logistics. His job is to get stuff from one place to another all over the county. I think I’d be great at that. But who knew that was a thing?
I don’t expect a high school sophomore to know what they want to do for a living yet. But they should start thinking about it. Explore options over the summer. Shadow someone. Take a class for fun in something that isn’t an option at high school. Explore the vocational floor if it’s in the regular high school like it was at Newton North. Or consider a vocational high school. You can alway go to college. But graduating high school with a marketable skill is no small thing. Consider what direction at least you might go in and tailor your college choice in that direction. Or think about transfering when you realize what your passion is and find out that your school doesn’t have a great department in whatever that is. (One of my best friends went to Oberlin and love it. But he realized that his passion was the theater and transferred to NYU’s Tisch school after one year.)
College can be a wonderful opportunity or a monumental waste of time and money. Particularly as ADHDers, we struggle when we are not working toward something specific. If the present sucks (and school sucks for many of us,) and there isn’t a compelling light at the end of the tunnel… things are likely to end poorly.
That’s not to say that your path can’t change. Nor am I saying that you have to choose a path early other than to be on the path of exploring intentionally and intensely. You may not find your passion until that class you take your Jr. year of college. That’s okay. But if you’ve spent the first two years of school trying new things and looking for that passion, it is time and money well spent. If you’re just punching the clock in college not looking for or expecting to find your passion, maybe it’s not worth it.
I realize this has probably become long, rambling, and you may not be able to hear me all the way up here on my soapbox. So I’ll end with the thing that brought me to writing about this topic in the first place. A client’s mom just hipped me to the fact that the main BPL in Copley has a whole program/area devoted to career and college planning. The details on the site are thin. But it appears you can get one on one guidance on careers and college planning. And I here that they are a great resource for considering future careers even for teenagers.
Check it out.
Standard Disclaimer: In an effort to foil my own perfectionist tendencies, I do not edit my posts much… if at all. Please and typos, mistakes, grammatical errors, or awkward phrasing. I focus on getting my content down. An imperfect post completed is better than a perfect post that goes unposted.