About two months ago, an employee from my former high school reached out to me, asking if she could interview me about my freelance business for the school website. Sure thing.
She asked typical questions, such as “how did you start your business?”, “what attracted you to writing?”, and “how did you learn to successfully navigate those avenues of online content and social media to the point you felt you could start your own business online?”
But then were the questions of “how did [school’s name] prepare you for this career?” and “What would you say to high school students thinking about their futures after graduation? What advice would you give?”.
Now, I knew I had two options here. I could lie (or at least omit some of the truth) and give the school the answers they wanted to hear…. or I could tell the truth, and ensure that this interview was never shared.
If you’re wondering, the article has yet to be posted.
How did [school’s name] prepare you for this career?
My answer: In high school, I wanted to become an Equine Vet so terribly. Not only was I at school from 7am to 4pm (I had an hour long bus ride each way) 5 days a week, but I also worked 20-40 hours a week on top of that, at the local veterinary clinic. My grades were good, and I was doing everything I could to become a vet and someday have my own practice.
Senior year, when it came time to apply, I applied to Texas A&M, and Indiana University Southeast, my “backup” college. I totally nailed the essay section and the extra curricular activities, and my grades weren’t a perfect 4.0, but they were pretty darn high. I was accepted into IUS, but no word from Texas A&M.
After some time, I became nervous and checked my online status, apparently no transcript was received. I went to my counselor, and asked her about it. She has forgotten about it, but assured me she’d send it in. I didn’t nag her about it, but I did ask about it one week later, and she said she’d get it in, so don’t worry about it.
Well, she did send it off before the deadline, but she sent it to the wrong building on campus. She placed the blame on Texas A&M for not forwarding the transcript to the right location.
By the time she realized she made a mistake, it was too late.
She told me to simply go to my backup school and try again next semester. I was immensely disappointed. Words cannot describe just how upset I was that I couldn’t go to my dream school. Although I never confronted my counselor about this, nor held a grudge, I was upset to say the least.
That error ended up being the best thing that could’ve happened to me.
During my short, single semester at IUS, I realized that I had different passions than the one I was pursuing. I wanted to make a different kind of difference, and I wanted to live a more free life. Vet school is expensive, both in the means of time and finance. Being a veterinarian would also be restricting in it’s own ways. There certainly wouldn’t be many 4 hour work days, the ability to work while traveling on my own terms, or extra time or energy to do the stuff I like- such as writing, kayaking, hiking, and trail riding horses.
I really think that had I gone to A&M, where the tuition was so much greater and I was that much further from my home in Indiana- I wouldn’t have had the courage to drop out. So really, [my high school] prepared me for this career choice, by accidentally eliminating what I thought was the right path for me, and I’m thankful for that.
What I do in my job, wasn’t covered by [my high school], because no one really knew that this career choice was even an option.
I did have an excellent English / composition teacher, and although my grades took a hit in her class, I’m so thankful for her. Before that class, I thought I knew just about everything there was to know about writing, and she definitely changed that for me. I really grew in that class, and learned to open up to criticism, and change.
Without that class I wouldn’t have that lingering bit of insecurity, that pushes me to learn more, double check my methods, and try to become better.
What would you say to high school students thinking about their futures after graduation? What advice would you give?
My answer: Be weird. If you’re worried about living like everyone else, you’ll never be different than anyone else.
If you want to go to college, you should go to college. If you’re unsure of college though, absolutely do not go! A degree guarantees nothing but debt, and some of the best paying jobs out there do not require a degree. In my book, Finding Financial Freedom, I had the privilege of interviewing a man from Texas with a net worth exceeding $10M- he has no university degree.
Starting out debt free with youth, and time on your side is a gift that so many people take for granted- don’t be one of them!
I could stand here all day and talk to you about wealth creation, intentional living, and minimalism- that’s what I blog about when I’m not freelancing. To make it short though, determine what’s important to you, and what your ‘Dream Day‘ consists of.
Then, pick that day apart, analyzing every aspect of it.
If driving a fancy car doesn’t contribute to your ‘Dream Day‘, don’t drive a new or expensive car. If spending lots of time in front of the TV or behind your smartphone doesn’t make up your ‘Dream Day’, don’t buy cable, or even Netflix or Hulu. If you have a smartphone, drop your data plan down or even switch it out for a flip phone. Make cuts in parts of your life that are inessential, and prioritize the areas that are.
If you have the time, research the FIRE (financial independence, retire early) movement and community, and take notes.
If you want to do freelance work, don’t hesitate to reach out to me! I’d absolutely love to help people get started on this journey.
I don’t care that the interview wasn’t published, but…
It’s pretty clear why the school decided against sharing my interview (I don’t blame you guys) but I still want to share a bit of my story (and my principles) that this interview reminded me of. Too often, I think that stories like mine aren’t shared, because they promote a strange lifestyle that isn’t understood, and doesn’t support the common narrative to:
- Go to college
- Acquire student loans (debt)
- Work a typical job, take few vacations
- Take on my debt to acquire big houses, cool gadgets, and new cars
- Retire at age 65, if you’re lucky
…and my point is:
- Just because you invested a lot of time into something, doesn’t mean that you need to continue to pursue it. I worked so much in high school that I would cry myself to sleep because I was so dang exhausted. Technically, that was wasted time, and a loss. But, had I continued on my pursuit to become a DVM, I could have potentially wasted the rest of my life doing something I wasn’t madly in love with. Sometimes, you need to cut your losses and move onto something else, even if that something else is uncertain and scary.
- You don’t need a degree. I’m trying to do my very best to lead a successful and fulfilling life, not just for my own selfish desires, but to prove a point. I think we’ve all subconsciously adopted the notion that to become “somebody” or to live well, we need a degree. I really don’t believe that’s the case, and I’m willing to gamble with my own life on this belief.
- Maybe don’t interview people without doing a little background research on them. I have zero hard feelings about this whole thing, but I can’t help but feel awful for the sweet lady who reached out to me, took the time to do this, and then realized the entire project had to be scrapped because I was not the kind of person the school would want to promote.
- Have you ever had a dream shot down, to realize that it was the best thing that ever happened to you?
- Do you think college degrees are a necessity?
- What’s your piece of advice for high school kids? What would you tell 18 year old you?
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