You probably know two young high schoolers like this:
Student One is intelligent, but his grades don’t really show it. By all common metrics, he’s average, he’s a bit unmotivated, and he’s lazy. He spends his free time in his room, lounging, watching television, and his weekends sleeping in as long as he can. He’d rather party than study and he messes around quite a bit in the classroom.
Student Two is quite different. He does well in school, studies hard when needed, generally maintains a balanced life and everyone tells you that “he’ll go far.”
They’re both about to graduate high school.
What should they do do next?
If you’re like everyone else, you’ll say, “college, of course!”
Student Two is a no brainer, and Student One, you say, should go because he’s lazy, unmotivated and needs the structure that college can impose on him.
But I want to offer a contrarian position.
Neither the gifted and hardworking, nor the lazy and unmotivated, should make college their first option.
Our gifted student is probably too good for it. He’s the kind of person who will learn on his own at a faster pace, who has thus far been shackled to the classroom and to peers less motivated than him and for whom college will only be a postponement of the kind of life he wants to build for himself.
His entire life up to graduation has been a conveyor belt towards higher and higher levels schooling, and though college might have some value for him, the question he needs to ask himself is why wait?
Way wait for a life that he can build now, outside of the classroom?
What about Student One?
He has potential but he has never done anything noteworthy in a traditional academic setting because he doesn’t put the effort in. Why should we expect him to suddenly change? The classroom is not necessarily the best environment for him to succeed in, and that’s okay.
For him, college will be little more than a socially acceptable way to avoid the costs of this unproductive behavior for another 4-6 years. The imposed structure of college will allow him to just get by like he always does, and it will reinforce the kind of habits that in the real world don’t cut it.
He would do better to put himself in a situation in which this kind of behavior very quickly began to cost him the kind of ease and comfort he’s taken for granted — he would do better to get himself out of the classroom and into real world situations that might stimulate him to action and help him discover what makes him come alive.
This article originally appeared on my personal site, DerekMagill.com