It’s time to educate yourself!

“Education is a human right, a public good and a public responsibility.”

The 24th of January 2021 marked the third-ever International Day of Education. The day allows us to celebrate the role that education plays in space and development. 

My Ma always said that education is one of the only things that no one could take away from me. From a young age I was sold on the incredible benefits of education. How it opens doors, brings opportunities and challenges us to grow. 

When I think back to my days in school, I had days that I would rather be anywhere else. I loved learning, the challenges and new experiences. 

But there were days that the final school bell couldn’t ring soon enough. 

I did appreciate my time at school while I was at school. However my then-appreciation can’t even compare to how I feel about my education now.

6 years after I graduated from high school. 

Only when I think about all of the ways I would go through those years differently l do I realise how much I actually got out of it, and how important access to education is. 

Now I’m not talking about university or college – the tertiary education that so many young people feel forced into pursuing. My tertiary education has helped pave the path I’m on now. Though that’s not what I think of when I think of the importance of education.

I’m talking about learning, growth and development that happens in primary school and high school. 

Formal learning can seem pointless at times. But I believe that if you milk it for all that it’s worth, it’s an excellent investment in yourself. If I could go back in time and tell younger self “how to do high school”, I probably wouldn’t be the person I am today. But it would’ve been a dang good cheat sheet. I honestly feel like I might’ve gone faster and further had I known.

Most young people that I speak to tell me that they feel like they don’t have time. 

“I could be doing so much more if I wasn’t forced to be in school for 6 hours every day.”

But take it from someone who’s literally been there and done that. 

If you allow yourself to make the most of the opportunities available to you, you don’t have to wait to graduate before you change the world.

“Education is the most powerful force in our hands to ensure significant improvements in health, to stimulate economic growth, to unlock the potential and innovation we need to build more resilient and sustainable societies. We will not succeed in breaking the cycle of poverty, mitigating climate change, adapting to the technological revolution, let alone achieve gender equality, without ambitious political commitment to universal education.” – Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director General 

1. Join a club or group for some social education

No one tells you this in high school, but it is significantly harder to make friends as an adult. I’m not saying this to scare you – it’s just the truth as I’ve experienced it. I say “harder” in the sense that you aren’t forced to spent 6 hours a day, 5 days a week with a whole bunch of people once you leave high school. Making friends and maintaining those friendships require a lot more effort. Joining a club or group in high school gives you the opportunity to form meaningful bonds with likeminded people. You get to make new and (hopefully) exciting memories that you can look back on after you graduate.

Another way joining a club or group can help is related to “networking”. Networking is a bit of a buzz word in the young adult and adult world. People pay money to attend events, eat h’or dourves and chat with random people in a semi-crowded room for the chance at making valuable connections and meeting new people. High school is a great opportunity to do just that with less of the awkwardness because a bit of discomfort in social situations is expected of adolescents. 

Your network = your net worth

You never know when a connection you had in high school will help you out down the track. Word of mouth is incredibly powerful and people are your greatest assets. I’m not saying that you should go out and make friends with people for the sole purpose of what they can give you. I am, however, encouraging you to form connections with people who you can exchange value with in the near future.

2. Take back your time – be switched on for your 6 hours

High school, and the mandatory 6-hour sentence, is the perfect breeding ground for a practise that most adults still struggle with. And that is the Art of Time Management.

You see, most people go through life consistently feeling like they don’t have enough time. They respond to, “How are you?” with “Busy” and they constantly feel as though their brain is in overdrive. So they seek out temporary (and sometimes dangerous) pleasures to take the edge off. 

I’ve found that this is usually the case when the amount someone thinks they should be getting done is out of proportion to what has actually been done. 

And so they keep their brain switched on because they feel like it hasn’t done enough I deserve to be switched off, but at the same time it’s been running all day and it’s exhausted

There are two ways to resolve this:

Option One: you can manage your expectations. Set reasonable targets for what you want to get done each day. Most of the time these “reasonable” goals get put on the back burner. Especially when a good chunk of your time is not your own. This can often lead to more frustration if these goals can’t be met either. So I recommend…

Option Two: Commit to being switched on for the 6 hours that you are at school. That way you can guiltlessly switch off once you’re done. Choose to pay attention in class. Choose to do what you can right then and there rather than put it off for later. Chances are your Snowball Energy will increase and you’ll end up wanting to do more when you get home anyway. But if you don’t, at least you have 6 productive hours under your belt.

See Related: Conquer: Check in with your goals for increased success!

3. Volunteer your time

Most people don’t realise how much time they actually spend mindlessly filling time. Have you ever pulled your phone out to check on a notification that popped up only to find that you’re still scrolling through Instagram 20 minutes later? 20 minutes a few times a day adds up to hours in a week. And the problem with spending your time this mindlessly is that you often don’t feel as though you did anything

Setting aside time to actually do something can help make the minutes feel more intentional, plus volunteering your time to better your community or positively impact another person’s life can increase your own happiness and fulfilment. It’s a great opportunity to connect with other people and do something good, while also gaining experience that you can add to your resume. 

4. Educate yourself on the “working world” and get a part-time job

Like with volunteering your time, getting a part-time job is great way to spend your time intentionally. Plus you can earn a bit of cash whilst gaining real world experience. It’s a win-win-win! Experiences such as this to set you apart from the crowd give you the chance to develop skills like team work, communication, customer service, time management and balancing priorities. 

5. Learn a new skill – now’s the time to be a beginner

I cannot begin to count the number of times I’ve sat at a piano, watched a dance routine or heard someone speak a different language and say to myself, “I should’ve started learning this sooner.”

I spent a good portion of my high school years lamenting that my parents didn’t force me to sit through piano lessons longer than they did, or that I wasn’t forced into language classes. All of the reasons why I didn’t have these amazing skills with all of the excuses as to why I wasn’t to blame. It was the perfect way to surrender (?) all control and take zero responsibility. 

Fast forward to young adulthood. It was only recently that I started taking responsibility again. I accepted that it’s okay to be a beginner

In fact it’s to be expected. 

But knowing this now makes one thing very clear to me:

That high school was the perfect time to be a beginner. 

I mean, think about it – you spend approximately 6 years with the responsibility to learn. You’re old enough to want to learn something new for you and come up with compelling reasons that are meaningful to you. That coupled with the fact that you are technically still a kid makes high school the perfect time to learn a new skill. Trust me, it takes a lot more self-belief to try, fall short and try again as an adult.

6. Discover what you’re passionate about

Same premise as why you should learn a new skill. Now is the time for trial and error. Get work experience, ask someone who’s doing something you’re curious about if you can shadow them for half a day. You will (usually) never have this much time and freedom with this little responsibility as you do when you’re in high school.

You don’t have to feel pressured into following your passion so early, but you’d be silly not to make the most of this time discovering what it is you’re passionate about

7. Play sport

Exercise is something that I wish I started a lot sooner. Our bodies (and our metabolism) are a lot more malleable when we’re going through adolescence. Your body is still deciding its status quo. Playing sport is a relatively easy and pretty fun way to get your body moving and your heart racing. Starting in high school also means you can learn the fundamentals and get some practise in while making mistakes and looking slightly foolish is more acceptable. 

8. Ask for feedback

You are surrounded by people with different lived experience when you’re in high school. You have older students, teachers and mentors who all go to the same location that you need to be at without you having to get them there. Use this time to ask for guidance, feedback or advice about your skills, your work or even the path that you’re taking. People are a wealth of knowledge and they are, more often than not, happy to share that wealth with you. Many people take it as a compliment that you want their opinion, so this is also a great strategy for building rapport.

9. Fundraise for a cause

You don’t need a degree or work experience to raise money or resources for a cause important to you. All you need is passion, the will to help and a cause that is dear to you. And yet, the efforts of one person can quite literally change someone’s world. It might not feel like a lot, but if we all did a little bit, it all adds up!

10. Get real with yourself – Educate yo’self

When you’re young there is always a lot of talk about “finding yourself” and “being your true self” from adults who have only slightly more lived experience than you who also have no idea who they are or what being their true self even means to them.Knowing what’s important to you, what you value and what you want unapologetically without fear of being told you’re wrongin high school will allow you to invite in more opportunities to get you closer to being your best self and living your dream life. Don’t wait until you graduate – you can start living that life right now.

So there you have it! 10 Ways You Can Change Your World While You’re Still in School! I’d love to know how you make the most of your time in school (or how you have in the past!) Share it with us in the comments below ?