Practical Advice for Young Adults
As most of my frequent readers know, I’m passionate about a lot of things, spanning way beyond green living. For me, staying green and reducing my carbon footprint is merely one of the many steps in living an effective and fulfilling life.
And, seeing as how I’ve mostly been focusing on eco-friendliness lately, I figured it’s about time I give you a post on living effectively.
A lot of 18-year-olds, especially in our day and age, find the idea of skipping university altogether very appealing. Lately, I’ve been approached quite a few times with questions on the subject and I’ve decided that it’s about time I wrote an article about this. And, in today’s post, I’ll give you my opinion on higher education.
The Importance of Going to School
Going to school is important when you’re young. You need to learn the basics. But we obviously cannot expect that school will teach us everything.
Yes, the system isn’t perfect – as a matter of fact, I think that it’s quite flawed. It is, however, important none the less.
But life keeps changing and I’m sure that one day, our school systems will also see large improvements.
Here’s the problem with schools – they don’t teach us about how to actually succeed in life. They can, however, give you a good and solid base to build up from. Topics like history, languages and even the arts today aren’t seen as lucrative unless you’re very determined to seek your fortune in the given field. Few people would, for example, see merit in studying ancient philosophy or mythology, unless they’re looking to become teachers or they are genuinely interested in the topic. But there is just so much that we can learn from these subjects! The ancient Greek plays, the statues of Rome, the writings of Socrates and Plato, all carry important messages. They make us ask questions and search for better alternatives. So, yes, I thoroughly believe that there is a ton that you can learn in school. But, in order to do that, you have to approach it with the correct mindset.
If you want to get your foot in the door of any business, organisation or establishment, a certain number of qualifications, certificates and connections are required. That much I agree with. But your grades and diplomas can only get you so far. After managing to get in, you need to be able to keep a steady hold over what you’ve achieved. You also need to aspire for more. And, without studying certain things, very few people will have the required mentality to do so. Yes, today we’ve got business coaches as well as a variety of success gurus who can give you the “motivation” needed. They can give you inspiring words and help you believe in yourself. But where do you think all of this got started? Believing in something greater, looking at a larger picture, striving to uphold ideals that go well beyond the grey, boring, everyday reality? It all started with folklore, myths, legends and philosophy!
In my opinion, school is failing to teach young people a lot of invaluable life lessons that most of us end up having to learn the hard way. Knowing things like how to use your money, how to save, how to treat those you care about, how to act with dignity, how to strive for greatness, are absolutely crucial for anyone looking to lead a happy and successful life. And schools should absolutely teach kids!
People keep saying that schools are boring, that children barely learn anything in school. And, for the most part, I can agree with that. They don’t teach you how to live your life. They don’t prepare you for the challenges that await you further down the line.
Or rather, it’s the teachers that don’t. But can we really blame them? After all, being a certified “life coach” isn’t a part of their job description.
Still, there are a lot of really useful things that you will learn at school.
One such great thing for me was competitiveness. I always wanted to be number one in school. I always had to be the first one to finish a task and the one who got the best grade for all topics. And this has proven invaluable in my life and career up to this very day. It has helped in ensuring that I’ll not only survive and manage to keep up with my bills but also that I’ll not fail. And just, like most people, I too am afraid of failure. It has been my competitiveness most of all, that has helped keep me on track. It’s also why I keep going to back to what I do – because I just have to be there, at the top!
Let’s assume that you’re 18 years old and you’re not sure what you want to do yet. Your parents don’t have a business for you to get experience in and you’re weighing up your options.
Should you go to university? Or maybe, you should start working somewhere? What about starting a business of your own?
Here’s my suggestion- go to college!
Why? College is important. When you’re young, 16-17-18, I absolutely believe that you can only benefit from going to college! You’ll get to hone your social skills, get started with building your personal network of contacts, and you’ll pick up a lot of important knowledge.
And, if you want to eventually start a business of your own, you’ll find each and every connection invaluable.
College is a unique place where you will meet a lot of people, some of which can have a significant impact on your future life and career. When you’re meeting these people and spending time with them, you’re actually preparing yourself for life after College!
“But Antoaneta, you just said that schools can’t teach us everything!”
Yes, I did. But you’ve also got the entire Internet at your disposal! I didn’t say that you can learn in your spare time as well! The Internet presents you with countless opportunity to learn new things – there are YouTube videos, tutorials, encyclopaedias, courses, workshops, and all kinds of other methods that you can enjoy from the comfort of your own home. There’s always more to learn and the Internet is the best place to do that.
Take me, for example. I’m already in my 40s, yet I keep learning new skills all the time! I find new business ideas, inspiration and information sources online and I’ve worked really hard to implement them in my business. The internet is a great sharing platform. I keep learning.
And if this wasn’t enough to convince you, keep in mind that studying doesn’t take up all of your time. You’ll have plenty of time to spare to look for more answers and opportunities while you’re there! And if you were interested in starting your own business, well, nobody said you can’t do that while in college.
But before you get to do all of that, you need to go to college first! Trust me, it’s worth it! Not only will you get to meet a ton of great people but you’ll also pick up on quite a few social skills, and let me tell you – you’ll really need those if you are serious about starting your own business! Alternatively, if you can afford it, you could also opt for online courses and still hang out with your colleagues meanwhile.
Going to university can be great … if you’re looking to work in a highly specialised field, or if you’re really passionate about a subject. If you want to become a doctor, a lawyer, an accountant, a scientist – by all means, go to university! Alternatively, if you’re really passionate about a subject, or you’d really like to expand your horizons in a professional environment, university is the best place for you to do so.
But if none of the above seems appealing to you, I’d wholeheartedly suggest that you pass.
And, if you happen to be older, don’t think that this doesn’t apply to you! Many people in their 30s and 40s decide that they need to get a degree all of a sudden, and often times, it’s just for the sake of having one. Then they take a loan, and it all goes downhill. Always take enough time to consider whether you’ll get a tangible benefit out of your investment!
Protect your investment!
If you do sign up, however, please do your best to keep up with your studies!
Universities are expensive. This means that, unless you’re lucky enough to come from a wealthy background, you’ll need to invest a significant sum of money, that’ll have to come from somewhere. Maybe your parents can help you out, maybe you’ll end up taking a loan. But no matter how you pay for your studies, you need to make them count!
This is business 101- if you invest money into something, you want to see it through to the end! That’s how you protect your investment. I made an article on proper investing, you might want to have a read here.
If you have parents to invest in you – lucky you! Use that chance and study hard. Don’t waste your time or efforts on meaningless things. And I know that appreciating the investment of your parents can be a difficult concept for most people. But if you don’t understand it now, I can promise you that someday down the line, you will!
If I had to choose, what would I do?
If I have to share my experience – I learned a lot from my school and my college. But when I went to university, my studies had nothing to do with my job today. Knowing what I know now, I definitely would’ve skipped going to the Bulgarian university that I attended. For those of you who’ve missed it – I’m the head of few companies (all of which have been quite successful, I may add), yet I’ve got a degree in meat and dairy products. Do you think that I’ve got any use for my diploma today? Yes, I did work in that field for a couple of years after my graduation, but it was never really my passion.
So, here’s my advice:
When you’re 18, start saving money. Start saving and look into investing.
There are many ways for you to invest in. There are passive investment index funds, which I definitely highly recommend to everyone 18 and older. If you start investing early, you’ll be able to buy your first property by the time you’re 30! With some careful planning and saving, you can even go as early as 25-26!
“But saving money is boring! I want to buy shiny new stuff instead!”
Believe me, I know exactly how you feel – I’ve been there myself! When we’re young and everything seems new it’s really easy to get side-tracked and keep buying tons of stuff that we don’t need. As a business owner, I’m quite well-versed in modern marketing tactics and let me tell you – there’s a very good reason so many companies and franchises are targeting the youth market.
If you’re having a really hard time keeping your purchases in check, set a monthly limit for yourself. Focus on budgeting and self-improvement.
Before we wrap this article up, I’d like to leave you with a few things that I wish I knew when I was 18:
- Have a role model – It doesn’t have to be Wonder Woman or Superman. As a matter of fact, the best role model in the world is the future-you! Think about who you want to become one day and act the way she or he would act. You can thank me later.
- Surround yourself with positive people – You want the people closest to you to bring you up, not drag you down.
- Find your passion – focus most of your time and efforts at getting good at things that you’re passionate about.
- Figure out what you want to do with your life – finding your calling can be quite difficult, but it’s most certainly doable. Setting aside some time to read through classical literature, mythology or philosophy can help a great deal with this.
- Set your goals – After figuring out all of the above, set a few simple goals for yourself and start working towards them at your own pace.
- Don’t rush – You’ve got your whole life ahead of you. Try to focus on one important thing at a time and don’t overwhelm yourself.
- Start saving early – The earlier you learn self-discipline, the easier your life will be.
- Keep learning – aim to learn something new every time you open a book or read an article online. Don’t waste your time with things that won’t teach you anything.
- Try reading more – An excellent way to learn new things and expand your horizons, reading has helped me more than you can imagine! I’d suggest that you try and read a new book at least once a month. And, if you just can’t seem to find enough time for reading, try audiobooks – I’ve got my entire reading list on Audible as well. If you’d like to learn more about the importance of reading, I’ve got an article about it right here.
- Stick to your passions – Some people can be passionate about writing, others with painting, some are great at working with people, others taking pictures, so there are plenty of ideas online! There will be another video that I’ll share with you some ideas – what businesses in you can start.
I could go on and on about college vs business but this article is already getting longer than I’d planned, so this will have to do, at least for now. I’m planning to revisit the subject in the near future and, in my next blogs, I’ll share with you a guide on how to start a business.
What is your experience with college and higher education in general? Are you working in a field related to your degree right now? Are you considering additional degrees? If you could go back to your college days, would you change anything? Give me your thoughts and experiences in the comments below! And, as always, if you’ve got any questions that you’d like to ask, feel free to drop me a line! I always enjoy hearing from you!