I read the paper every day (in print!). I think I’m the only one in my neighborhood with a subscription to the News and Observer. There is nothing I cherish more than the half hour I spend with my coffee and the daily news. My attention is usually directed towards the articles about politics, though I really should read the world news more closely and I typically completely ignore the sports page (unless there is an article about the Syracuse men’s basketball team beating Duke in overtime, Woot!). My preferences align with what I studied in college: political science. I chose my major because I loved my social science classes in high school and actually got involved in local and national politics. (You’ll have to ask my parents about the time I convinced them to put a sign for presidential candidate Steve Forbes in our yard).
Majoring in political science influenced me to intern with a lobbyist. That experience helped me realize what I didn’t want to do (work in government). It did, however, teach me valuable skills that I still use today. Though I don’t study government now nor do I intend to run for political office, my college major helped me discover my strengths. I like to connect with people; I like to share my passions with others; and I like to read and think. All of those skills are valuable to me in my current work.
Many of the students I work with don’t know what they want to study in college and it isn’t always easy to convince them (and their parents) that they don’t need to know. (For more information about why a major choice isn’t always necessary, check out this article in Business Insider).
While a definitive major choice isn’t necessary to complete a successful college search, it is, however, helpful to identify areas of interest and develop curiosity.
Tips to help high school students develop curiosity
While just getting a teenager to pick up a book is a big win, it is also important to diversify the reading list. Move beyond the comfortable genre and pick up a book that will challenge you to think differently.
Right now, I’m reading White Fragility by Robin Deangelo, and The Grumpy Gardener by Steve Bender. Neither book relates directly to my work, but both help me think more deeply and challenge me in different ways.
Keep track of how many questions you ask per day. Think about the types of questions you ask. Do they help take conversations in class deeper into the topic at hand?
Pay attention to the students in your class who do ask a lot of questions. Perhaps they can inspire you to start to wonder why and how.
Find a mentor who will push you
I don’t know about you, but I know that when I am aware that someone else is invested in my success, I work harder and tend to achieve my goals more frequently.
Find someone who will keep you accountable and push you beyond your status quo.
Talk less. Listen more.
Listen to everything; music, podcasts, your parents, little kids.