Dear Harlan, I have been forced to listen to talks about college for my entire high-school career – without anyone ever asking me if I actually wanted to go to college. I’ve been taught in high school to believe that without college, I won’t find success in life. Do you have any advice about being successful in life regardless of transition? – Class of 2015
Dear Class of 2015, Brilliant question. If you’re going to spend $50,000-plus a year to get a college degree, there should be some degree of self-reflection involved. I get why your parents want you to go to college. There’s hard data that says you will earn substantially more over the course of a lifetime versus not getting a college degree. College helps you build relationships, get training and grow emotionally at a place where you can safely fail. The problem is that most students don’t fail enough. They wait for life to happen and coast along. They wait for someone to force them to make life happen. And that’s why so many students are lost, confused and self-medicating. Want college to matter? Focus on what YOU want. Then, college isn’t the next thing to do. It’s about doing something you love doing; it’s about getting training and surrounding yourself with people who can help you follow a path. Most high schools do an awful job of teaching this. Currently, college prep is mostly about being wanted and avoiding crippling debt. It’s not about what YOU want. It’s not about experiencing the next phase of life. Make this next phase ALL about you. Take a gap year. Work as an intern. Surround yourself with people you aspire to become in the future. Focus on loving, accepting, and choosing yourself. Then go to college (and yes, I’m still an advocate of college). Check out the book “Choose Yourself” by James Altucher (www.JamesAltucher.com). James believes we all should choose ourselves first, then take the next step. I agree with you — high schools need to do a better job preparing students for life, not just college. That’s where I love to help. Keep in touch. I want to hear more from you.