Thursday, April 21, 2011

Something Students These Days Should Know

     I work in the higher education arena.  On a day to day basis I am in constant contact with students.  I am both old enough to be their mother and I work in retail.  Both of these make me fairly invisible to your average 18-20 year old college student going about their day.  What that means is that they will carry on conversations both on their phones and in person as if I weren't there and that gives me some insight into where they are in their lives and what they are thinking.  Additionally I have hired, worked with (and fired) a LARGE number of college students in my "past life".  I have alternately loved them like my own children and spent a lot of time shaking my head at the way their brain works. If I had the opportunity to share lessons with our current students this is what I would say: 

1-  In 5 years most of what feels like a crisis now just won't matter.  It's funny because I have found that many of our freshman and sophomores treat college as an extension of high school and bring the drama with them.  Recently, in the ladies room, two girls were freaking out about some other girl and a boyfriend situation.  I had to smile inside because no matter how big that seemed in the moment, it probably won't matter even by the time they leave college. 

2- How you treat people reflects more on you than it does on them.  Bullying is a huge topic in the news right now but bullying is not the only bad behavior that shows its ugly head.  Remember cliques?  They are alive and well.  Sadly, I even know some adults who still feel ostracized by the "mommy cliques".  I cannot say often enough that there is NOTHING that makes you "better than" about being in a club, a fraternity/sorority, a clique.  How you speak to and treat people; be it other students, your professors, my staff, even your family members, says everything about who you are as a person and nothing about the other person. 

3-  Nothing in life; not your possessions, not any service, not your education, not your job or paycheck, not respect; NOTHING is deserved; you have to earn it.  Society is very different now than when I was a child.  I could enumerate for days the way things have changed but nothing has changed so much as parenting.  We hear about helicopter parents and in my work life I have seen a lot of it.  The problem with Mom and Dad hovering over their children and running interference on a constant basis is that these kids develop an attitude of entitlement.  We see it every single day and it makes me sad.  At some point these students will be out in the world and in a position where Mom and Dad cannot bail them out and they will not know how to handle the situation on their own.  It will be an incredibly rude awakening.  I have given a few of those wake up calls when parents have tried to interfere with employment issues with my staff.  We are supposed to be preparing our children to become productive members of society and that starts with taking responsibility for their own actions. 

4- Life is what you make of it.  I have mentioned before that one of the things that makes me crazy is the "phrase" FML (F**k My Life).  This lesson is very basic:  Drama breeds more drama, negativity breeds more negativity and on the flip side, positivity breeds more positivity.  If you are constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop, not only will it drop but you will miss all of the great things that you let pass you by while you were too busy lamenting how bad you have it.  Before you say "FML" stop and think.  There are thousands- no millions- who have it worse than you.  Be grateful for all that you have because if you are here, you are in school, you have resources at your disposal to learn, you can feed yourself, you have friends, you have family- you are so very blessed.  Even if you only have ONE of those things, you are better off than many. 

When you begin to appreciate your the things you have in your life, when you acknowledge your blessings, when you take responsibility for your words and actions, a new world will open up for you and you will like the direction in which you are heading. 


Jessica said...

Very good tips for students. Nothing in life is deserved, it all must be earned which takes a lot of work.

Peter said...

Great advice to the new generation. I think chronic illness gives us an appreciation for life and all the blessings we do have. Great insight.

Jules said...

Hi Jessica- you are so right, it does take a lot of work.

Peter- I agree. I wouldn't wish being chronically ill on anyone but the insights it gives us can be true blessings. I really appreciate your comments. It's very refreshing having a man's point of view on here. :-)