Okay, I already wrote a whole book about that, but at this time of year (back to school) I tend to do a lot of head shaking about the angst expressed by parents and students who still believe they have to do things the traditionally hyper-competitive way.
That’s so Old School, but I’m not going to launch into my tirade here.
Instead, I’ll share a happy email I received this week from a student who is thrilled to be on a different track. (Psst–her parents are pretty excited, too!) I’ve edited it and removed identifying info, even though I’m guessing Rosie would be delighted to go public.
Here’s some of what she said:
Hello Mrs. Frost,
My name is Rosie. I am 18 years old and thanks to your book, I am a global student.
I graduated American high school in three years (it turned out that I had enough credits – was only missing one unit of PE credit) and did a Rotary Youth Exchange my senior year to XXXX, France. There were certainly nay-sayers; most of them kids my age telling me that I would regret missing prom, football games and graduation. But I am very lucky that both of my parents were behind me supporting me 100%.
I also want to add that by reading your book, I discovered Rotary Youth Exchange. Thank you so much! Since my freshman year I loved my French classes and wanted to leave and see the world as soon as possible. However all of the going abroad programs were always too expensive for my family and although I held a few part-time jobs it would have been a long road earning the $10,000 to $12,000 . After reading your book I immediately called my local Rotary club and started the application process.
My exchange was the best and the most difficult year of my life so far. I never once regretted going even when I was dealing with major language problems, a new school in a new country, and a completely different culture. During my exchange I passed the French high school diploma exam - le baccalauréat, in order to go to their university.
That’s what I’m doing this year. I am going to my first year of college in France. And I think that’s really cool! My tuition for the entire year is so cheap that I paid in cash (187 euros) while my friends back home will have thousands dollars in debt at American universities. I have to hold back my wanting to do spontaneous cartwheels whenever I talk with my friends back home – I have to keep reminding myself that it isn’t polite to gloat.
Needless to say my parents are delighted about the cost (or I should say the lack thereof) and very proud of me.
My next plans are to travel as much as possible while I’m here – little Ryanair airplanes and couchsurfing here I come. Next year I plan to transfer to Germany to learn German for two years until I graduate. I will finish one year in advance of my American friends, trilingual, and with very little debt compared to them.
I can not tell you how much your book has changed my perspective on what I can do in terms of my education. Suddenly it’s my education and not an education. You saved an extremely bored high school girl from the wheels and cogs of the College Board machine.
Thank you so much,
After two years of getting these messages almost daily, I am still so excited to see kids like this leapfrog over their peers with tremendous enthusiasm and direction. It doesn’t take slavish devotion to the college admissions rules to get a great education. Those who listen to their hearts, pay attention to the options and seize their best opportunities are the ones most likely to thrive before, during and after the college years.
And the ones like Rosie who find their own path? Their experiences and enthusiasm far outweigh the “prestige” of the hoops jumped through by their more mainstream peers.
Rosie is making her own luck–and playing by her own rules. Cheers to Rosie and the other Bold Schoolers who are celebrating their freedom to get a great global education on their own terms and time lines.