The teen today and the adult tomorrow

Last week, I was surprised to run across a student I tutored for the SAT over 20 years ago while I was still in college. I remembered him well, at least what he was like at age 17. Affable, relaxed, and engaged, he rested comfortably as a B student in high school who was a lot more interested in surfing than he was trying to boost his GPA. The last interaction I had with him was the email I received when he told me he’d raised his score over 100 points…to an 1100. He told me—and I still remember his exact words—that he was “way stoked.”

Today, he’s got a PhD from the University of Michigan and is a senior advisor on international trade to the mayor of one of the largest cities in the United States.

There was never any doubt that this kid was going to college one day. Too many college-going communities pejoratively refer to students like him as “average,” as if B’s signify that a student is destined for a sub-par future. But I’m not sure anyone, including him, would have predicted that he’d rise to these heights in a profession he probably had never even heard of, much less shown an interest in back in high school.

They’ll be adults someday, but today, they’re kids. You may not see an obvious connection between those two words yet. Don’t worry. The surfing or video-gaming or guitar-noodling student you see today could and probably will grow up and surprise everyone in ways nobody can predict today.

Appreciate the teen they are today and look forward to the adult they’ll be tomorrow.