Much of your high school life will be focused on right answers—studying them, memorizing them, identifying them, etc. But some of your best opportunities to learn, to lead, to make a difference, and to prepare yourself for a successful life as an adult come from your ability to solve problems when there isn’t an obvious right answer.
The day before the trip you organized for the Ski Club, you realize the club oversold tickets and there are now not enough seats on the bus.
Students on campus are feeling threatened by bullying, racism, or homophobia.
Your teachers just went on strike, and the AP Bio test is next month.
The baseball team hasn’t won a game in two-and-a-half years.
You took an internship at the gaming company, but your supervisor clearly does not want or intend to use an intern.
The homeless shelter where you volunteer was vandalized, and they do not have the funds for repairs.
You notice that a student in your English class regularly shows up to school with bruises that he’s trying to hide.
The leadership in the club you founded can’t seem to get along for more than five minutes at a time.
What are you going to do?
Some of these problems are far more serious and complex than others. But they all share one thing in common—while there may be plenty of wrong answers, there is no single correct answer guaranteed to earn you full credit.
It’s good to be able to find right answers when they exist. But if you really want to get smarter, make a difference, and set yourself up to be a successful person during—and even more so, after—college, go where there are no right answers. Those are the problems that really need solving.
And those problems are where the real learning takes place.