Sunday, April 17, 2011

Speculation on a Generation: Millennials & Linear Education

Does high school as it currently exist really prepare those of us in the millennial generation for the rigors of college? I'm not talking about the demanding course load, finesse of balancing one's time, and ultimately striving for a degree (even though I'm not convinced that it does that sufficiently either).

What I'm talking about the is managing of expectations for millennial when they get to college. All the way since Pre-school our generation has been raised on the idea of "participation awards" and with the concept of a linear education: Elementary > Middle > High School > College > Grad School > Career.

We haven't come to this expectation of a linear education or a linear life through witnessing the generations before us live their lives that way, but rather, because we were told we must have this expectation because it is this linear path that "will lead us to that period of utopian happiness in life that is retirement and if you don't follow it well, good luck to you".

Here's a fun fact: Richard Branson (Virgin Mobile), Bill Gates (Microsoft), Steve Jobs (Apple and Pixar), Frank Lloyd Wright, Walt Disney, and Mary Kay Ash (Mary Kay Beauty Products), all who are arguably some of the most well known, most innovative and wealthiest of people in the last 100 years either never went to or dropped out of college. Now that doesn't really match up with the idea of a "linear" education/life, but I hardly think you could argue these people are unhappy. That's because these people found what too many kids are sent off to college without and told to find without much support, they found something they were passionate about. They found that thing that every morning when they wake up makes them not only get out of bed but want to. 

So how does this tie back into high school education? We need to ditch the idea of "linear education/life = happiness" because, the greatest advice my Mother has ever given me is "Life is not a straight line" and the sooner we accept that and the sooner we stop telling kids they need to follow this or that system or program to be happy, the sooner they can stop worrying about the system and majors and whatever else it is that was pounded into millennials heads as essentials for happiness and the sooner they can find those things they are truly passionate about. If they find that thing and base their careers around that the chances of finding happiness before retirement, in my opinion, go exponentially up.

Some quotes to reflect on...

"Genius is 1% inspiration, and 99% perspiration" - Thomas Edison

"Be the change you want to see in the world" - Mahatma Gandhi

"Choose a job you like and you will never have to work a hard day in your life" - Confuscius

"Put your SWAG on." - IB