It was personal statement time and probably the most time we have spent together, uninterrupted, since the beginning of term. They had said they were struggling to write it so I made them a template and went around and talked to them all about what they want to do in the future.
I couldn’t help feeling so excited for them! They can do anything they want, wherever they want…everything is ahead of them! That blows my mind!
Some of them are just as excited but there was an awful lot of them who have absolutely no idea of what they want to do next week, let alone for a lifetime. They don’t even know what subjects they like at the moment.
They said some wonderful, sometimes sad, sometimes hilarious things. I especially enjoyed being asked what subjects were needed to become a surgeon by one student, only to be asked ten minutes later what they needed to become a flight attendant! But that’s great, right? They know they can be whatever they want to be! And I love that!
My heart broke a bit when one student told me they had nothing to say about themselves because they’re boring and had no personality. I wrote down a list of positive adjectives (considerate, committed, intelligent, diligent, interesting) to describe them, they looked genuinely touched. I don’t think anyone had ever said anything so nice to them before. I wish these kids could see themselves the way we see them.
It wasn’t just the less academic students finding it hard to pick subjects for further education but the ones who have too many choices. I had my best conversation with a student who knows that the decisions they make for AS levels are going to shape their future. They are interested in so many (too many, in their eyes) things but I think they could be fantastic at anything they tried their hand at: lawyer, journalist, politician.
How can you know at 16? You can’t…you are going to be a completely different person when you eventually graduate and ten years after that you’ll want to be something different. It’s ok if you have the luxury of going back to uni to retrain but not everyone can do that.
I find it hard to keep personal feelings out of it when talking to students about career advice.
We talked about what I saw their strengths as and for me they have that confidence to be heard and express themselves which not many people have. That is invaluable and to be like that at such a young age, in my eyes, means they could do absolutely anything.
It feels like I should be a bit jealous but I am so happy for them. I am excited for everything that is going to happen to them. I wish they could be as enthusiastic for their own futures as I am.
PS. At the end of the day I saw the student who was torn between becoming a surgeon or an air hostess – their mind is now FIRMLY made up. Guess what they picked?