It all counts
I remember in high school, when asked to write a paper for a social studies or science class, someone would always ask, “Does spelling count?” I guess the assumption was that the rules of grammar didn’t apply outside of English class.
As students across the country start preparing for the return to school, or get ready for the next phase of their education, a version of that question will begin to pop up in their minds. Grade point averages, electives, standardized test scores, the school I attend… does it count?
The competitiveness in today’s job market has reached a fever pitch. With layoffs and downturns in multiple industries, a flood of experienced, talented, and motivated workers has hit the market. Employers can be much more selective when hiring which can make it difficult for younger workers with less experience. There is also significant statistical evidence to show that people who join the workforce during recessions earn significantly less over their lifetime than workers hired in boom economic times. A college degree alone is no longer a guarantee of a lucrative and secure financial future.
What does this mean for young adults educating themselves for their future? It means everything counts. Working to get admitted into a good school and making good grades while you are there counts. Taking elective courses which expand your knowledge or skill set to differentiate you from your peers counts. Building a network of relationships with people who can help you get the career you want counts. Protecting yourself financially by saving and managing your debt responsibly counts.
In our classes at Real Life 101, we try to emphasize this idea with all our students. It’s easy to think that your GPA isn’t a big deal until your prospective employer asks to see your transcript. It’s easy to think your credit scores are unimportant until your landlord won’t rent to you because of your payment history. Now more than ever, people will be scrutinizing every detail of our personal and professional lives, and we have to be ready for it.
Despite the recent economic downturn in this country, we are still a vibrant community of workers who will shape the future with unforeseen innovations. Great opportunities exist – and will continue to exist – for those students who demonstrate they have the willingness, capability, and desire to lead rather than be content to follow. After all, that is what really counts.