They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but the personal presence carried by the young woman in the photo above requires a whole Webster’s dictionary to encapsulate. This graduating high school student is a high achiever. During our last conversation, I asked her about the current course load she was taking. Coming into her senior year she already had sufficient credits to graduate. Nonetheless, she was taking three advanced placement courses that would also count as college credit. With one of the higher GPAs in her class, she exhibited all the symptoms of someone ready to exit high school way before her chronological age of eighteen.
Where do I come in? Well, this young woman was meeting with me to vent about her unsuccessful attempts to receive high marks on the ACT exam. She had taken the test twice, reaching only a score of 26—way below what would be expected of an advanced placement student.
“So, what is the deal?”
“These college tests all make me crazy. They are so critically important that I stress out before each one and have a panic attack as the date comes closer. All in all, I would very much like to never take one again.”
“A 26 will get you into every college on your desired list, won’t it? So, stop retaking the test.”
“I can’t do that.”
“It’s about money. A 26 doesn’t pull the scholarship and financial aid I need.”
Bingo, the root cause of the performance anxiety: testing for money. Guess she was getting herself ready for the rigors of the commercial marketplace way before she signed a form w-9 for tax withholding from her first employer. I speak of her in the vocational facet because she has transitioned into the world of work even before graduating high school.
Now imagine you are this young woman:
First, if your current scores cannot be improved, then the extra cost to go to college is an investment in you. Do you feel you are worth the investment? Let’s say it costs an extra $10,000 per year for you to simply enter college with a 26 instead of a higher score. $10,000 for 4 years equates to $424/month in payments after you graduate. Are you worth the $424 monthly freight? Remember the person who made you also set the stars in place. Do you think He thinks you are worth it? Sort of reorients your thinking doesn’t it.
Second, a perfect score on the ACT is 36. The distance between the 26 and the 36 is all the stuff you don’t know YET. Change your mindset and go into the next test thinking you are there to continue developing. Testing is simply a tool for helping you become all you are capable of becoming, under God. See, you don’t go through the rigors of college boards simply to get a bigger scholarship. The real reason is that it gives you an opportunity to continue to get better and learn more. This changed mindset will reduce stress and actually improve performance.
Do you think you are worth God’s presence, even when you are sitting in for one of those awful exams? Do you believe The Father would sit with you as you answer all those questions again? Do you think He enjoys watching you perform for His glory?
Welcome to Heaven in the world of vocation. To anyone reading this who is in school currently: right now, your vocation is education and being young. Do not rush this time. The adult world isn’t going anywhere.