The Real World Starts Early: Turn Your Education Into Experience by Craig Middleton

Push Yourslef
The Real World Starts Early: Turn Your Education Into Experience by Craig Middleton shows how healthy competition and challenges push people to achieve more in school, life, and work. When you push yourself to best your prior achievements, your future continually develops, progresses, and never stalls. You will continue to gain new real-world experiences if you develop the habit of maximizing opportunities early in your education. This is a message we need to share with our children.

High school sets the stage.

  • Today’s high school students have moved past traditional models. Now they can have flexible schedules with online classes and save money on education through advanced placement (AP) courses, effectively starting their college career in high school. Some American teenagers can even experience internships and part-time jobs with experimental “night school” high schools cropping up.
  • These contemporary approaches give students a head start to the real world, where time management and financial accountability exist without school bells and teachers as motivators. More common options help teenagers leap into mature mindsets earlier.
  • College prep classes, or the most rigorous academic track their schools offer, indicate students won’t stop at a diploma but will pursue future plans.

  • College entrance exam prep courses are an investment in more numerous college choices and should result in higher test scores many employers review for young hires.

  • Extracurricular activities, including sports, train students in teamwork and group mindset that professional full-time work depends on.

  • Volunteer work, like tutoring, pushes young people to apply their knowledge and strengths beyond themselves as they grow into their careers.

Work yourself into the real world

  • After education, part-time work should be the next early valuable introduction to reality. Summer and after school jobs can pay for educational expenses, give exposure to careers and build a starter resume. From the moment you sign your new hire agreement or fill out a W2 form online, you will feel steps closer to independence past student life.
  • Apply early. Research hiring processes and visit potential employers ahead of dates you can start. In spring, actively begin your search for summer work.

  • Have references. Teachers, principals, and counselors can best connect your strengths for a job to your performance and commitment to education. They may also be the best resources to learn about internship programs and highly meaningful work.

  • Keep perspective. Take advice from future and current employers seriously. The real world is full of rejection, so consider applications and interviews practice even if no job offers arrive.

  • Finish gracefully. Education and first jobs are the foundations for recommendations you will need for more education and better jobs. Avoid missing hours, arrive on time and keep working until you give proper notice to leave for your next opportunity.

Further your education for a purpose.

  • You must have substance behind your diploma, certificate, and degree collection. Good grades are adequate goals to start high school, but in the real world, achievement must create tangible results. In fact, high grades can be false indicators of capabilities since more teachers inflate them out of pressure to validate stressed students.
  • Whether you are deciding on a college major or plotting a return back to school, retain personal mission and purpose in all you do. Aim for more than money as a driving force.
  • Mentor younger students and professionals in programs you completed successfully.
 Volunteer somewhere related to your dream career or current field.

  • Connect with fellow alumni for a strong future network.
 Share your time when others need your advice or recommendations.
  • Plans to further your education and gain experience in the real world can start at any time, but the sooner the better. That way, you will be practiced in a seamless transition to more complicated stages and changes when they arrive.

Craig Middleton

  • Craig is a New York City-based retired business consultant, who is an expert in education and cultural trends. He has a Masters of Business Administration and a Masters in Education from St. Johns and loves sharing his knowledge on the side through his writing. If you have any questions or comments you can direct them to Craig at
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