A bit of Advice for Current and Prospective High School Graduates [By Dr. Mesfin Genanaw]

To those of you who have graduated from high school this year,
congratulations on your successful completion!! Pat yourself on the back for your wonderful accomplishments. Few words of advice, from someone who was once a fresh high school graduate with big dreams just like you and who has stayed on college campus a little longer than normal (another 30 years) as an educator. Your journey thus far has been closely supervised by your family, school counselors and teachers, who were looking over your shoulder to make sure you have all of your homework done and submitted on time. In college, you won’t be moving from classroom to classroom with the same group of people, eating lunch with them each day. You will be mostly on your own to get all those homework done on time and done right. Don’t be
afraid but the road ahead of you is a little bumpy and rough with a lot of traffic on the way.

In today’s world, having a college degree is not a choice but a necessity.Today, three-quarters of the fastest-growing occupations require education and training beyond a high school diploma. By 2020 (two years from now) 65% of jobs in the USA require some type of credential beyond high school.College graduates aged 25 to 32 who are working full time earn about
$17,500 more annually than their peers who have only a high school diploma, according to the Pew Research Centre, a think-tank. The gap in income b/n the two groups is widening every year.

I am not going to tell you what to study but make yourself ready
psychologically to become the person you always wanted to be. You are at the right age to become whatever you choose. Success in life is so much up to you, not so much upon your environment or even the school you go to. You probably were comfortable within your little tribe of friends at the high school. You may have said goodbye to many good friends with whom you share lots of memory, but plenty more are waiting for you out there. Meet as
many of them as possible but choose the right friends. Do not be afraid to avoid bad influences. Be yourself. Life will be so much easier if you aren’t spending all your time trying to be someone you aren’t. Keep in touch with your old friends (except you know who) no matter where you go. Your high school and college friends will always be your lifelong friends. It is a bond that lasts a lifetime.

The choice of your future career is perhaps the most important decision you make than the college you will be going to. All education doubtless nourish your soul, but not all fatten your wallet. Hard subjects and good schools always pay off. However, getting paid reasonably enough, for something you really love to do for the rest of your life, is more fun and fulfilling than being
paid large for something you really hate to do. But whatever you choose make sure it has good employment opportunity, to avoid a forced rerun of your college experience and more college debt to deal with.

If you can’t get placement for the career you want to specialize on at four year institutions, community Colleges have hundreds of specializations to choose from where you can have your associate degree in two years at a much affordable tuition and later on transfer the credits to a four-year institution to earn a bachelor degree in your area of interest. With proper licensure, you will be amazed some of the technical careers education will earn you more money than some careers in soft subjects with a graduate

As they say, education may be expensive, but it is more expensive not to be educated. If you work hard in your first 25 years of age, you will live comfortably during your remainder life but if you let go your first 25 with fun and procrastination, you will probably have a rough life for the rest of your life. Once you’re in your 30’s or 40’s, it gets harder and harder to reinvent
yourself.For those who are still in high school reading this article, It may seem so far away in the future, but senior year is upon you before you know it. You need to assess your academic and extracurricular progress thus far. Are your grades and test scores where you aim to be? Have you paid attention to extracurricular activities outside of the classroom? If there’s anything that
calls for improvement, perhaps now is the time to address it. I say to you aim high and try hard to get admission to prestigious universities or even ivy-league colleges to be able to sit in the front raw when employment opportunities come. Prepping for those institutions must have started early on in your life but certainly at the time you join high school. Admissions to
great colleges are not like random lottery; some students have a very high chance of getting placement whereas others have no chance of admission based on their SAT/ACT scores, GPAs, extra-curricular achievements,leadership experience, letters of recommendation and a personal statement that goes with the application.

Hunt for scholarships and grants early on at multiple sites. At websites like Scholarships.com, millions of potential scholarships and grants are listed,free money worth billions of dollars. Most of your parents have sacrificed a lot to make your life a little better than their own. It is now your turn to prove to yourself and society that you can be whatever you want to become.

Article contributed to the Houston Ethiopian Community New Year Magazine


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