First Class Advice by Bill Bussey, Provost
As spring vacation approaches, I begin laying the groundwork with my advisees and their families for next year. Everyone has their own plans, desires and campaigns for the future. Managing everyone’s expectations is a tricky business. We adults are convinced that we know what is best for our children, yet we often forget what it means to be a child.
So I asked eight Class I students to share what they believe is the single, most important bit of advice that they could give underclassmen and their families. I promised these students anonymity and that the only requirement or guidelines presented was for them to be honest. They were free to say what they wanted. They come from different cultures, not all have made a final decision about where they are attending college, and a couple of them did not drink the Nobles “Kool- Aid” for much of their time here. I expected that a couple of them might have axes to grind and, as I see it, that would have been understandable, as not all of them has had an easy time of it.
Instead, I got wisdom.
I corrected a few mechanical hiccups but otherwise, here they all are, as written, unedited:
1. "One thing I would tell all parents to do is to allow and encourage their children to periodically reassess their expectations of themselves. A lot of times at Nobles teachers and peer help groups address the fact that many students receive excess pressure from their parents, coaches, teachers, etc., but fail to see that as highly competitive students, the majority of pressure has been brought on by themselves. Personally, I always had this desperation that I could keep my 10.0 GPA that I held fall semester of freshman year. For the next three years I killed myself over trying to meet some arbitrary 'benchmark' that I achieved only once. Every grade closing I felt like I had been cheated by my teachers, and failed myself once again, one semester after another. This past fall, I finally came to accept that I would probably not be able to get the grades that I set out to get all throughout my high school career. And finally, I felt as if I had deserved what I got and I was proud to get it."
2. "The best advice I can give is to take risks. Take them now, because it’s okay to fail right now. It’s okay to mess up or to fall short of your goals, but it’s not okay to live in your comfort zone. The moments where I’ve been unsuccessful have been those that taught me the most. A sad misconception is that it’s not okay to fail, but it really, truly is and, if you ask me, now’s the best time to do it. If you like to sing, try out for the Nobleonians or Greensleeves; if you’re curious about basketball, give it a try. Write your English paper on the controversial, difficult topic you’re sure you can’t pull off. Tell your crush how you feel. You think you have everything to lose, but you don’t. You’re safe here, so trust your friends, yourself, your support system, and go for it."
3. "Figure out which of your friends truly care for you, even when they have nothing to gain from your companionship, and hold on to them. You won't be able to tell who they are at first, but over time they will show themselves through their actions. These people are invaluable. They will be what you remember about your high school experience."
4. "In all my years at Nobles, I realized that it's not about whether you're an 'Arts Center' kid or an 'Alcove' kid. Nor is it about the material things—the car you drive, the clothes you wear, or even the house you live in. It’s about the mindset that you maintain everyday. If you walk into Nobles with a positive, go-get-‘em attitude, Nobles will return the positivity. If you're ambivalent, you'll receive ambivalence back and so on and so on. Nobles truly is what you make it. It's up to each and every student to seize the opportunities at hand and make the most out of their years. Any one of us can go through Nobles, but it's only the wisest of us that allow Nobles to go through them and really impact our lives."
5. "As we approach March break and graduation, I'm starting to see what has actually mattered to me in the past five years. Nobles has always had its ups and downs, whether it was through academics or sports, but the one thing that could always be controlled were relationships with friends, family, and teachers. After high school, these are the people that you will remember and who will remember you. It is another reminder that you should always live in the present because for every important moment, whether it was being cut from tryouts or simply cramming for a test, if you ever tried to reach out, someone was always there to help. I know that when I graduate, I won't be thinking about the grade I got for Physics junior year, I'll be hugging the people who cried and laughed with me through the years."
6. "Over the past couple years, I think I've found it easy to get caught up in the rigor and stress of Nobles and I've allowed that to shape my view of the school. When friends are all together it seems like we always talk about how stressed we are and what little things at school are bugging us. But now that senior year is ending, I think I'm starting to realize how special Nobles really is. I wish I appreciated it more than I did in the past, and recognize how much it improved me as a person. I think about previous schools I've gone to and looking back now, I wouldn't have been anywhere close to where Nobles has brought me. I know it's cheesy, but I think every Nobles student secretly thinks about it—at least if they don't now, they will once they're graduating."
7. "I would advise a freshman or sophomore to take at least one risk while at Nobles. Do a play, try a new sport, take a trip, join a club. I've found that some of my favorite experiences came from taking advantage of travel, service and athletic opportunities that I hadn't known about before coming to Nobles. Even if you find in the end that the new thing wasn't really for you, you'll be glad you tried it anyway for the experience."
8. "Everyone in this school has your best interest in mind. Teachers at Nobles are genuine and always want to see you succeed. Take their advice; they give it out for a reason."
Couldn’t have said this last one better myself. Didn’t have to.