Excel at life outside your classroom

Why life’s experiences often deserve more credit

My middle child graduated from high school last weekend. While my daughter is a bright young woman, her personal motto has evolved into, “I excel in life outside the classroom.” If she is passionate about an academic subject, she embraces it and does very well. But when she has little interest in what is being taught, such as math, in her case, the door slams, and she is “outside the classroom.”

Is this a bad thing? I used to think that high-school grades and extracurricular activities were what mattered and got you into the college/program of your choice. However, as I watch kids in college change their majors a number of times, struggling to find their interests and passions in life, I am beginning to think that this effervescent, intriguing daughter of mine just might be on to something. She has experienced everything from teaching fourth grade, to accompanying WWII veterans to Washington, D.C., to working the polls in the last election, and even teaching five- and six-year-olds how to play soccer, the game she loves. And all of these influential experiences have taken place outside the classroom.

Hindsight may be 20/20, but only with fine-tuning

Wouldn’t it be great to be 18 again, beginning college, or art school, or culinary classes, etc., knowing what you know now about your life and experiences? What would you study this time? How would the choices you’ve made differ? Would you play more or work more? Would you pursue that passion you had in your late teens and early twenties, even if it meant you might never live in a half-million-dollar home or drive a sports car? Would you be happier?

It’s never too late to find your passion. The clue might lie in the next book you read or the next person you meet. Keep your mind and heart open to it. Challenge yourself to “excel at life outside your classroom.” Dare to dream.

And what about that child of mine? This fall, she will be pursuing her dreams of playing college soccer and studying to be the first American sports broadcaster on England’s Sky Sports News. Am I going to tell her that she is being unrealistic, and she should study something more practical? Not a chance! Excel at life, my child, excel at life.

Melanie Stallings
June 10th, 2010


One Response to “Excel at life outside your classroom”

  1. Melissa Miles Says:

    What a good article, Melanie….very thoughtful and interesting! Kudos to you for letting your daughter pursue her dreams!

    June 11th, 2010 at 3:49 pm


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