Summary of Part III: Work IS education and for most people, what’s learned at work is far more important than what’s learned in school (elementary and middle schools are useful, high school is a waste for most). So choose where you work carefully. Don’t worry about prestige or money. Better to work at a well run and busy McDonald’s than at raw food restaurant with lax standards. Work at places that constantly push you to do better. Surround yourself with colleagues who are competitive.
How Much Education? As mentioned before, most people don’t need more than an 8th grade education to become a millionaire. All you need is grit, ambition, and discipline. (If you have those three character traits, you’ll likely become self-educated). If school bores you, ditch it. It’ll just make you dumber and you’d be wasting precious resources. (Go back to school when it makes more sense). If school is interesting, stick with it. But resist the urge to compare yourself to the average (shocked at how common this is). Always compare yourself to the best. You don’t need to strive to be the best. You just need to grade yourself fairly. If you compare yourself to the average, you’ll become delusional and provincial. You’ll never be able to recognize much less face the actual range of capabilities that exists.
How to Sell Education (How I Read It) Some teens emphasize education because that’s all they have to offer, they’ve never worked. Fine, but many are making too big a deal out of a 4.0 GPA. They don’t know how to sell it. Here’s why.
Nearly every teen applicant I’ve met refuses to compare themselves to the best. They instead use their 4.0GPA (or even 3.0, sheesh) to boost their self-esteem. To those who make a big deal out of their 4.0, here’s reality. You’d probably be at the bottom of the class at a top high school. The average SAT at a top public high school like Stuyvesant is 1400 (Math and Verbal only). Thomas Jefferson, it’s 1430. Exeter, 1400. The dumb jock from Palo Alto high school who is now an NBA starting guard scored a perfect 800 on his Math IIC in NINTH GRADE. Now what did your valedictorian score on her SAT? When did she take her Math IIC? Are you getting the sense that you’re a big fish in a tiny pond? Sure you ready to face the sharks? Are you starting to understand that the average Stuyvesant graduate is at least six grade levels ahead of average Mountlake Terrace high graduate? (Parents, does this bother you, want to do something about it)?
Here’s how you sell a 4.0. Be humble. Point out that it’s coming from a high school with low or middling standards. Mention that you didn’t take the toughest course load. Show me you can put your achievements in a perspective that frames you as teachable employee. There’s nothing more dangerous than someone with inflated self-esteem. They can’t learn, they only want to be admired, even worshipped. Put simply, show me you have high standards for yourself. Whether or not you meet those standards is irrelevant to me. It’s not like you’re applying for CEO.
Some of you are 2.0 GPA students. That’s fine too. Don’t hide it, be honest. Mention how you haven’t been able to see the point. That you don’t want to waste time learning bullshit. I can work with that.
The point is, be honest. First to yourself, then to others. Yes, it’ll offend many people, including loved ones — people don’t like it when their praise is refused because it’s a criticism of their own standards — but if you’re upwardly mobile, it’ll impress those you want to impress.
Putting it On Paper
Some recommend teens to list their education ahead of their work experience. For my business, I prefer education to be listed near the bottom. If you’re on a college prep track, list the following:
Test scores (SAT, SAT II, AP exams, etc)
AP courses currently taking
Don’t try to appear perfect. Nobody is seeking perfect. We’re all deeply flawed. We’re just seeking (and I’m speaking for all small business owners) honesty.
If you’re not on college prep track, list the following:
Test scores, if available
Relevant trade courses (many high schools have culinary programs)
We’ll discuss hobbies and references in next section.