Today, I'm spending all day at a seminar given by one of my favorite authors. It's expensive. It's happening at our busiest time of year. I'll be up at the crack of dawn to take a train over an hour each way so I can avoid what would almost certainly be three hours of LA traffic if I drove. And I can't wait to go.
I want to get there early so I can sit close to the front. I've spent the last week thinking about what I want to learn and what questions I want to ask. I'd go every day this week if he offered it.
I wish I'd felt this way about my classes in college.
I don't remember ever being this excited to attend a class in college. And believe me, that wasn't my college's fault. I did what too many college kids do. I picked the major I thought I should pick. I took the classes I had to take to graduate. School wasn't the fun part of college. It was the business I had to take care of for the right to do other things I thought were more interesting.
If I could go back again, I would make it my mission to find classes that I was as excited about as I am for this seminar tomorrow. I would have enrolled in five classes each semester, attended them for a week, and then droppped the one or two that just didn't seem as exciting. I would have sought out professors I'd heard great things about, gone to their office hours and talked about what we were learning.
I'm not suggesting that I would have found the easiest classes so I could skate through college. I would have found the classes that made me want to work harder just because they were so interesting. My college life was great, but it would have been even better if I'd done these things.
High school doesn't offer you the opportunity to follow your academic interests the way that your college will. So before you go to college, adjust your expectations of just how great school and learning can really be. Make it your job to find classes, professors and a major that make you want to get up in the morning and keep learning.
I know that might sound totally ridiculous if you're in high school right now, especially if you're taking AP Everything and just trying to survive. But you will have the opportunity to create a great learning experience wherever you go to college. The only question is whether or not you'll take advantage of it.