Spoiler Alert: They knew EVERYTHING. A few-years-of-angst ago I agreed with that as much as I did the idea that the world was flat. It took a few years and a lot of mistakes. As a late bloomer who started college at age 20, today at 23 I can now confirm that my parents (almost) always knew better than me.
Of the infinite wisdom my parents offered, 8 lessons stand out the most.
1) Go to College. Throughout high school I insisted that I did not need college to achieve a happy and successful life. One and a half years after that “no college needed” thing, life proved me wrong. 60+ hour work weeks baselined my life. Eight-hour shifts transformed into 17-hour shifts. Two days off transformed into one day off and sometimes mutated into no days off. Oh, and shifts lasted as late as 6:00 a.m. I pictured myself living the same life at 40. That picture terrified me into changing my life. I enrolled in Atlantic Cape Community College, at age 20.
2) Watch Who You Hang Out With. At 21 years old I lived in a bayside condo equipped with four floors, two balconies, a neighborhood pool and more space than three 20-somethings could ever wish to furnish. I worked 30+ hours per week and attended school full-time. In between, I exercised 4 to 5 times per week. Some days started at 7:00 a.m. and ended at 4:00 a.m. the next day. While I only slept three hours some days, my roommates only worked three hours most days. I loved spending time with them—watching football, pigging out, and even empathizing over broken hearts. But our values and goals differed. While I strived toward bettering myself and my life, they grew more content with complacency each day. I chose growth over comfort, and ventured out on my own after our lease ended. Your environment either 1) Renders you a product of it, or 2) Propels you to escape and never return. I never returned.
3) Get Good Grades. It turned out that when I paid attention in class, completed the homework, and studied for the tests, I earned good grades. Who would’ve known? My community college GPA jumped from 3.4 to 3.8 (roughly) out of 4.0. I have a 3.94 GPA at Rowan University. Just in case I go to graduate school.
4) Always go to the Bathroom Before You Leave the House. I drink a lot of water. I hate pulling over into Wawa. I feel too guilty to just use their restroom so I ALWAYS buy something. Go to the bathroom; save money.
5) Be Polite and Use Your Manners. I proudly proclaim that I always adhered to this lesson. Manners display character. Character emboldens you past static constructs like a resume or a body in a lecture hall seat. Since graduating high school, I held three different jobs making pizza. All three bosses employed me because I made a good pie. But all three bosses willingly compensated me more because of how I interacted with customers and represented the business. Hold the door for someone and you might score a job … or a network connection … or a date.
6) Stop Worrying. Just stop it. My dad, a stereotypical Baby Boomer, pressed me to take business classes. I scoffed at the notion. But the suggestion stemmed from this core message: Try different classes, and see what you like. “Life isn’t a straight path—it’s full of zigs and zags,” he preaches. So, I took a business class—and I hated it. But I learned what I like by first discerning what I dislike. I didn’t discern my major until the middle of my third semester. By that time, I knew from concrete experience what majors interested me. I avoided college because the fear of not knowing paralyzed me. But career fields parallel food: You need to try it to find out if you like it.
7) Dropping Your Pride: Well Worth It. My first semester attending school full-time I also worked 36-hour workweeks, creating a pretty grueling schedule to juggle. I developed enough stubborn pride for two people. My parents suggested that I scale back to 20 hours per week. They also offered to supplement the resulting money I needed—contingent that I achieved high grades. “You have the rest of your life to work. You’re a 20-something college student, have some fun,” they said. Not only did I enjoy myself and reduce my stress, but working less rendered me an improved budgeter. And I learned to accept help from others—something you’ll have to do during group projects at Rowan. (Shout out to my groups!)
8) Bring a Jacket. You can always take a layer off, but you can’t add one you don’t have. Walking from building to building can take a while at Rowan. Don’t shiver out of stubbornness. Wear a jacket.
This blog post is lovingly dedicated to my parents, Beth and Steve Schachner. Thank you for being right about everything.
What were your parents right about? Comment below.
By: Kyle Schachner, Ventnor, NJ (Atlantic County)
Double major, public relations and advertising