By: L.A. Kohl
May 7, 2005
(published in the Wed., May 11 '05 edition of the "Bullseye")
All over the country, high school graduation ceremonies are upon us. For those of you “leaving the nest” to go on to college, I’ve got a little story for you.
College can be an intimidating place for an eighteen or nineteen year old. Especially for those, like most of you, who have attended high school in small communities. That’s where I was at....well, I won’t say how many years ago.
I made the decision to only attend college for a couple of years. Conveniently, the college I chose to attend offered a two year Associate’s Degree in Computer Science.
Computers weren’t an option at my high school; although I believe they set-up a classroom full of them the year after I graduated (isn’t that the way it goes?) I only knew it was a quickly progressing field, and there ought to be many jobs for me to chose from with a degree like that. In order to get that specialized degree in two years, though, I had to take very specific classes each semester.
My first semester was pretty cut-and-dry as to what I could take. (You can’t imagine my relief during the first day of “Intro to Computers” class when our teacher told us how to turn the computer on – I was hoping I wouldn’t have to ask!)
When second semester rolled around, my advisor suggested I take the 300 level Statistics class, because it was required for my degree, it wasn’t offered every semester, and it fit well in my schedule. I agreed, thinking that I should get it out of the way. It didn’t occur to me that I was a 100 level freshman, and 300 level meant upper-classman course. Not until my first day of Business Statistics class, that is.
Our highly professional looking, thirty-something teacher strutted into class and started calling out the roll call. When he got to my name, he didn’t hesitate to tell me that I was a lowly freshman and I had no business being in his class (not his exact words.) He looked at the rest of the class – maybe 40 all total, all juniors and seniors – and said that these students were going to have a tough time passing his very rigorous class, and he saw no possible way that I, being only an inexperienced freshman, stood a chance.
I gotta tell you, his little intimidation speech almost convinced me he was right...but not quite. I wanted to graduate in two years even more than I wanted to drop his class.
Over the next week or two, I saw him humiliate various upper-classman, also. I realized it was his cut-throat, business world approach, and anyone whom he didn’t think was “up to par” for his course was fair game. It was during that first couple of weeks – as I watched upper-classman dropping his class right and left – that I decided I didn’t care if he wore designer clothes, drove a hot convertible sports car and strutted around like he owned the place...I was going to pass his class.
Not to brag or anything, but I not only passed his class; my final grade was a straight “A." I hope he never again tried to show a freshman the way out the door.
Graduates, there will be plenty of people in the adult world to cut you down and tell you you’re not capable. My hope for you is that, as you spread your wings to leave the “nest” you’ve been raised in, you won’t let those wing clippers get the best of you. Instead, stand on your own two feet, spread your wings, and let them watch you soar.