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March 23, 2013

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Things High School Never Taught Me

So much to learn, and so little time spent in high school.

I learned a lot of things in high school. I learned how to do geometry, and how to balance chemical equations and how write essays about essays, and I even learned how to ceremonially carry a sword. Once I got to college, though, I realized that there are a lot of things that high school left me completely in the dark about, and I had to struggle to figure out how to do them. Some things I still don’t know how to do, but that’s why life is a learning experience, right?

1. Taxes

I’m starting to think that no one in the world actually knows how these guys works. I understand the basics of how they work and why we have them, but I have completely no idea how to pay them or to know how much you actually have to pay. There’s no class for this. No one sits down and teaches you how to pay your taxes, unless you go to H&R Block and have them do it for you. I can’t believe that no single high school teacher ever thought it would make sense to teach anyone how to pay taxes, they’re definitely more important than knowing how and when to use iambic tetrameter.

2. Time Management

I know a lot of teachers out there like to pretend that they teach their students good time management skills, but it’s just simply not true. Time management in high school is pure child’s play compared to the time management expertise that college requires. High school is relatively easy because you have the same schedule every day, but college is completely different because anything resembling a completely routine schedule completely disappears and you’re left with this complete smattering of classes and activities and meetings and essays and reading assignments that you have to find time to do on top of sleeping, eating, and maintaining a social life. Good news; everyone figures it out eventually.

3. Finding solitude in company

I’ve found that, no matter where you go, you are never, ever alone while you’re at college. That’s just the simple truth of how things work. Even when you retreat back to your room after a tough day of lectures and classwork, there’s someone there. This was a tough adjustment for me, because at home, my room was my escape from the world, where I knew I could be truly alone. But at school, you wake up within 30 feet of someone, you eat all your meals with at least a hundred other people, you attend classes next to your peers, you do homework in the eternally inhabited library, and then you finish your day by slithering back to your room to fall asleep within 30 feet of another person. It can be a little overwhelming, but something you can easily adjust to if you learn how to create solitude for yourself. Know what you need to do to keep in touch with your inside-self, and know the little things that you need to do for yourself to be happy.

4. How the Internet works

Okay, yes, everyone knows the internet is extremely useful for all the best things in the world like tumblr and Facebook and Netflix, but believe it or not, it’s also incredibly helpful for academic endeavors. What a crazy notion, right? I recently learned how to mine the internet for information, and wow, you would not believe how much information the internet actually has. I couldn’t believe that searching the internet for academic information was actually a skill, but it is. After I spent hours searching with no results, I visited the reference desk at the library, and a woman showed me how to properly use the internet. What an eye-opening, humbling experience. I really wish I had learned something like that in high school.

5. What I really want

Like many other students entering their first year of college, I was convinced that I knew exactly what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to major in International  Development and Social Change and work on extending education to women in developing countries. I knew all the classes I wanted to take, which campus activities I wanted to be part of, and I had decided that I had my entire life planned out. Boy, could I have been anymore wrong.Everything changed as soon as I got to college, not because of anything particularly special, but because that just seems to be the way college works. When you’re completely on your own, and left to pick and choose whatever you want, the things that you want and aspire to change.

There are a whole lot of other things that I didn’t learn in high school, like calculus, physics, and how to write award-winning novels, and other things, like semi-meta-life-lessons. Luckily, college has a very sharp learning curve, and hopefully I’ll soon be able to catch up to all the things that I think that I should have learned in high school.

1 Comment
  1. Colleen Tighe
    Mar 27 2013

    Love your blogs! My daughter is an accepted student and seriously considering Clark. She is currently a gap year student working in Boston with City Year. We are visiting campus this coming Monday, April 1. She is looking at the International Development & Social Change program. Hoping she feels the same connection you did when you arrived on campus.

    Thanks for all the great reading!!

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