Recently I was asked to address honors students in Union County regarding their futures. I am taking the liberty of sharing a condensed version of those comments as hints that might be of value to highschoolers who are about to graduate. Here goes.
First – Whatever happens, in any setting, under any circumstances, in school, or at work, at home be true to who you are, and the principles that have been at the core of your educational experience. I know the values of the people in Southern Illinois and appreciate their power and purpose in shaping a persons future.
Second – As you think about college consider every available means for financial support, scholarships, financial aid and work study. Don’t work too much, but studies indicate that moderate work 10 -15 hours actually increases academic performance and success.
Third – Focus on becoming a servant leader. There are far too few leaders who genuinely serve others, and far too many who primarily serve themselves. It is the bane of a free society, a school, or a business concern.
Fourth – If you begin college at a community college, you will never have to apologize for that. This was my experience as one of six children of working people: my Mom, a cook in my high school cafeteria, my Dad, a janitor in the same school. It was community college for me, an excellent way to get started, then on to other places, some of the best in the world.
Fifth – If you are not sure what you want to study, or where your vision for your own life will lead, don’t fret over that, not until you’re forty anyway.
Sixth – Make sure you get involved with other students in healthy activities, activities related to your faith, or your career interests. College campuses provide an excellent place for people to gather, from many places, and walks of life, glued together by faith, nationality, life experience, and other common experiences that build interpersonal relationships.
Seventh – Read, read, and read some more. However much you read you are not reading enough. It is rare to find someone who spends too much time reading. Get off the internet and go to the library.
Eighth – Meet your faculty. If you have some that seem distant, or are distant, work to cultivate a relationship with them. Find others through referral that will visit with you about your ideas and worldview.
Ninth – Never be lulled into thinking your personal views are not part of your intellectual development. Unfortunately this happens with people’s faith life… it may be detached from your intellectual life. How you think is a direct reflection of what you believe. At some universities it appears that we are trying to separate these aspects of our lives. Don’t let that happen to you.
Tenth – Keep your eye on the ball. Look ahead as far as you can. Have a dream and pursue it vigorously every day. Treat it like a favorite picture. Put it in your wallet and pull it out every now and then and see what makes you like it so much.
Remember that being a good student makes you a leader, whether you want to be or not, and carries responsibilities. Once you gain respect and trust, you must use it wisely. If you want people to take you seriously, you must give them a reason to.
These attributes will prepare you well for Our University, and every university in the nation.