Thursday, September 02, 2010

Advice to Students

Walter Russell Mead has some very good advice for students headed off to college this year. I wish all students could learn the lessons he is offering. Here is one example:
3. You are going to have to work much, much harder than you probably expect.

I’m sorry to bring you bad news, but your generation faces the toughest competition any American generation has ever known.

Your competition isn’t sitting in the next library carrel. Your competition is in China and India – and your competition isn’t hanging out at frat parties or sitting around watching sitcoms with dorm-mates. It isn’t getting stoned and it isn’t putting its energy into chasing the opposite (or apposite) sex. Your competition isn’t taking lots of courses on gender studies; it isn’t majoring in ethnic studies, or (unless it is planning to go into movie making) the history of film.

Your competition is working hard, damned hard, and is deadly serious about learning. There’s nothing written in the stars that guarantees Americans a higher standard of living than other people. Those of you who spend your college years goofing off in the traditional American way are going to pay a much higher price for this than you think.
Ditto, ditto, ditto. I know that my high school students today work twice as much as I did in high school back int he benighted seventies. They are involved in many more activities and are volunteering in their communities. And, on top of that, they're spending lots of time on the internet and Facebook. They seem to have more hours in the day than I did at their age. But then I read actual books in my spare time which I don't think many of them do. Except for books about vampires and Harry Potter, of course.

Read the rest of his advice. And then send it on to any college-bound students you know.