THE 2014-2015 graduation season has just passed and I was happy to see many of my friends posting photos of their children completing their college, high school, grade school…gasp! even kindergarten! (Actually, a few of the photos were surprising: some of my younger friends—who still look like college students themselves—had kids already going off to the university. Wow!)
Graduating from high school was especially liberating for many of us who studied in exclusive Catholic schools for girls. Under the watchful eyes of the nuns at Saint Theresa’s, we all tried to be prim and proper ladies that any parent would be proud of.
College was a whole other level.
If I thought I could get away with most of my subjects—except those Math-related—in grade school and high school, our courses at the university seemed designed to extract every drop of sweat and concentration from us students. Even my favorite pastime of reading books became less enjoyable, and seemed more like “work.”
So amid all that, I dabbled a lot in extracurricular activities and joined the student council, the college paper and even the student athletics league. The latter, of course, was just so I could get exempted from PE.
And holy Santa Teresa de Avila! There were boys. Tons of them. In all shapes, forms and persuasions. Sure, we had a few get-togethers with students from all-male Catholic schools back in high school, but I didn’t like attending them as my parents forced me to bring my brother as a chaperone. Eeek! So I decided to wait it out ‘til I got to college, and I wasn’t sorry.
Some may argue that the time we spend in school—from nursery to prep, elementary to high school, and then college—never quite prepares us for the real world, i.e., our careers, our families and our social lives.
But I disagree. For me, I’d say all those years helped me to be more tenacious and persevering—whether it is in my profession or in my relationships.
And because I am in media, all those years put me in touch with so many kinds of people with various temperaments, social classes and behavioral attitudes—a big help when trying to figure out if it would be better to approach that company president playing with his young daughter in the resort swimming pool, or just wait for his news conference.
I’d also say that having graduated from a specific university also helped me forge social connections that were later helpful in my career. For instance, whenever I found out that a VIP I was about to interview graduated from the same university I did, it was the easiest opening to talk about a recent UAAP basketball match with the rival university, before asking how much his company made last year. (Unless the VIP turns out to have been a nerd his entire life and never cared for sports, then that opening would be a certifiable dud. Fortunately, I can be quite conversant about the latest techie gadgets as well.)
If I were to pass on the important things I learned after graduating from formal education, there probably would be a lot. But for brevity, here are a few:
- English is still the lingua franca. I don’t care how many people say we are more nationalistic if we are conversant in our own Filipino language; in the real world, international communications are still largely done in English. (It is the reason, for instance, that BPOs have been coming here; we speak English better than most Asians, although that edge is slowly slipping.) Even the Chinese, who occupy the most number of square kilometers on earth because of their sheer number, are learning English to be able to interact with the world outside their country. And if Manny Pacquiao can learn English, so can you! (A requirement especially if you have kids studying in Brent.)
- Reading and writing well are essential in social or professional interactions. Be it books, or just the news sites, it’s important to read and be fully informed of current events, the latest trends in your field, and even showbiz gossip. For instance, company heads always need the latest information to plan the direction of their business. So it would be a great help if you could tell him the latest digital trends that could help the company expand its reach, or what a rival firm is doing.
Writing in close-to-perfect grammar just makes communications with the higher-ups or with potential clients so much easier. It expresses our thoughts better and makes our points go across well. It also sends the message that we have organized thinking, and we were properly schooled, which translates to trustworthiness.
- Money helps, but it isn’t everything! Having just graduated from school, it’s best to go for the experience than the highest salary. For instance, working in a call center may give you P25,000 a month at the onset, but then what? Where do you go next? (In many Western countries, a call-center job is a summer or part-time thing. In our country, it seems to be the be-all-and-end-all aim of most new graduates to be employed in a BPO.) Value the experience, not the money. Also, the more money we have, the more expenses we incur, many of them unnecessary.
- Try to learn other disciplines other than what you already know. Remember that there are more and more young people graduating and eyeing your job, so it’s best to have an edge and give your boss the best value for his money.
- Pray. It builds courage and strength. It helps us overcome obstacles and, perhaps, discouraging outcomes from what we had planned. It quiets our thoughts and helps open our mind to other possibilities and futures.