Ticking Outside of the Box
Education is a very different word to schooling; your education never ends. However, from the moment you enter the schooling system, you are thrown into a world of tick boxing. Teachers, politicians, parents and peers often serve as constant reminders of the need for getting the right grades, joining the right clubs and generally becoming, on paper, a well- rounded person. And while you may be extremely impressive on a Word document, that won't be a true measure of who you are as a person. You need to find what makes you happy, find a passion, even if it means ignoring society's checklist.
A couple of years ago, upon entering the final term of my GCSE year, we received a surprise assembly from our then Head of Academic. We were nearing the few weeks of exam leave where it all suddenly becomes very real that our exams were just around the corner. He first lectured us on a few ways to do last minute revision, and then moved on to how much time we should be spending a day on revision. Even then it seemed odd to me to tell 150 students of ages 15 and 16 to forget about free time and spend 8 hours a day revising. Obviously, the exams were extremely important, but what kind of wider lesson did that teach us? That member of staff was not around for long and was even renowned for being a bit overzealous when it came to preparing for exams. He ended the talk by telling us that our lives would be decided by the results of our exams.
Whatever opportunities these public exams may open up for you, your lives are not ultimately dictated by letters on a piece of paper, as long as you don't let them. Your life won't end if you don't get the grades you want. Passions come in a wide variety, they bend and tailor to the individual. Life is the opportunity, and if you find your passion, then my advice would be to do everything you can to make a living doing what you love. But if a life of tick boxing is what you want, then there's no stopping you; in fact that actually works in your favour.
It is true that a good degree from a prestigious university will considerably increase your chances of succeeding in a cruel working world. And of course, it's a good aim to to maintain a stable job and make ends meet, or even be incredibly successful and enjoy the freedom and options that money provides. But none of that will prevent you from being bored. Your passion doesn't have to be grand, and it doesn't have to revolutionary, but it should be fulfilling. There will always be another box for you to tick, a whole other set of mundane tasks to complete, but a passion will sustain you, it's endless nature won't appear as a chore. This time at school and university is the best time to discovers yours; discover it, and then own it.
Max T. (17)