Wasting College Years

Chapter 2: High School to Early College

Let’s forget my friend and his amazing “career knowing” at the middle school educational level, and fast forward to high school. To me, good grades only mattered to my parents. As long as I stayed off restriction or avoided the near death experiences of a beat down by my dad, my grades were good enough to me (mind you, in those days it was ok to bust a kid’s ass if they did something wrong). In high school, I continued to play baseball, and as a freshman, I wanted to attend the University of Georgia to continue playing. They had just won the national championship, and one of their players was from a local high school that we played, so I wanted to continue to play baseball. I busted my butt to get better. I worked on my game before there were videos and private coaches that came to your home. Good career move, or so I thought.

Thinking about this moment as it relates to my teaching career, I remember having had many freshmen enter my classes where they would express ideas like this. They had a pretty big dream, but were not ready, or in a position, to achieve any part of it. At least I was on the team and working hard. Many students I have had will say these outlandish dreams and aren’t even in the right solar system to achieve them.

One thing that I was lucky to have in my educational life was the art magnet program. Thank goodness for the Pinellas County Center for the Arts, and the teachers that pushed us to be skilled artists. I was able to spend three hours a day focusing on and producing some sort of project. With the program having real expectations of results, I needed a concentration. I enjoyed the support of a great art teacher that gave me the challenge of throwing 25lbs of clay on the wheel, “because baseball players need strong hands”. Once I became a senior, I focused on ceramics. At that time, I envisioned a life with a house of my own with a wheel and kiln in the back. I still smile at that vision because I have never shared it with anyone. I did envision a small house where I just worked with, and produced, this amazing stuff that people wanted. That vision made me happy, so at least I wanted to do something that made me smile. There was also a problem with that vision. I didn’t want to go to a “nerdy” art school with no real sports teams, so I avoided Art College at all costs. I see that as at least knowing where I didn’t want to go.

Maybe my mistake was thinking things would be different once I got into college. I really thought college would be more challenging. To me, it became an extension of what I didn’t like in high school; more studying and writing papers. I became more lost once I got to the place where I was supposed to find my direction in life. At this Tennessee college, I was one lost soul. If I didn’t say anything in high school, where I knew people, I definitely wasn’t going to say anything to new people, in this new place, where I barely knew anyone. Where were the inspiring teachers that I knew in the high school art program? The “what” I was going to become turned into just-pick-something-panic-time because I still had no idea. Coming from an intense art program, and now not having those teachers that had interest in my educational success left me feeling alone in my decision of what to study. So, looking at what I was good at, I decided to be an art major. Big mistake. I had to start over at the bottom of basic drawing classes after spending three hours a day throwing on the wheel while in high school. I had a great portfolio of my skill, but I had to slum it in lower level classes that paced me into a fog of disinterest. As you probably guessed, art didn’t hold my attention. After the first year, I was packing my stuff and heading back to Florida. One year of college, and I was further away from any knowledge of where I wanted to head in life. Back home, I did what my long lost friends were doing; taking classes at the local junior college. Many of the things I was involved in were hobbies, and my choices lacked any real connection to what I wanted to be in the immediate or near future.

After finishing the AA degree, it was time to head back off to a 4-year university. Well, now it was time again to pick the college of my dreams. You know, the place that is right for you, where you will become something great by entering their educational facilities, taking some classes, and graduating to a fruitful life. Once again, I am still believing that college will be this golden ticket when just two years before it wasn’t. Ah, yeah, not that I missed the memo on what I wanted to do, but I still just didn’t know. So, once again, I was at a major college and still stuck on trying to really know if this choice of major was right for me. I was literally experiencing the same thing where other students were picking from a list of majors to study and I had no clue of what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. At that point I just wanted to know how other people knew that the major they were picking was right for them.

So, after a summer of videotaping my friends, I decided to be a film major and study secondary education. This choice was hardly on the road to personal success and inspiration, but finally I could see a light at the end of the tunnel.


This is a part of a chapter from my book Learning Curve: How to Prepare For Success When You Don’t Know Where Your Life Is Going by Pierce Brunson. Every Monday and Thursday for the next 12 weeks I will share parts of the book starting today 3/17/2014.  The next shares will come from my new book Rock The Crowd (Wednesday/ Friday Schedule starting 4/21/2014), a book that helps teachers give the best performances of their life as they teach their students.

Learning Curve: How To Prepare for Success When You Don’t Know Where Your Life Is Going is dedicated to helping the high school student that desires success in life but doesn’t know exactly what they want to do or how to do it.  During this confusing and stressful time most students just pick a college major or get a job and just hope things work out. Well, that strategy is terrible!  The best strategy includes learning and adding the characteristics in this book to one’s personality so that as the right opportunities come along the student can take hold of them.  Learning Curve is the jumpstart information that helps teens prevent a lifetime of wishing, “if only someone would have told me”, once valuable opportunities have gone away.

Direct Link: https://www.createspace.com/4626501

Follow this blog to enjoy more samples from the book.


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