Don’t Say “No” in College!

“Never try, never fail.” – Crank (Robots)

Don’t be Crank.

I had the opportunity to speak to around 200 incoming college freshman recently.  I was speaking to them as a person that has overcome a number of things and experienced a lot, but my message was this.

There are very few consequences in college.

We can look at certain college athletes and say “well, there were obvious consequences for them!”  We know people that have failed a class or had their GPA drop to the point of being kicked out.

You can do something really dumb and get arrested, like my friend that wound up volunteering for me to pay off his community service.

I’m not talking about those consequences.  Those are obvious, not-being-a-responsible-citizen types of mistakes.

I’m referring to the judgments you were subjected to in high school.

Judgments for going to a poetry reading.  Judgments for looking like a kiss-ass when you’re working with a teacher you admire.  Judgments for taking a class that doesn’t fit your image.

Judgments for not pursuing the subject you declared your sole purpose when you were ten – before you knew anything.

I’m also talking about an opportunity to figure out what you’re good at and what you’re passionate about without pissing off your boss.

Knowledge about traditional subjects but also about the people you admire.  What makes them good at what they do?  Why do people want to follow him or her?

“You ought to spend a little more time trying to make something of yourself and a little less time trying to impress people.” – Vernon (The Breakfast Club)

College is a unique time in your life – don’t waste it.  You don’t know where life is going to take you.  You probably have had some tough times – some more than others.

Your going to be challenged – regardless of your current situation.  Get a lot of experience.  Gain a lot of knowledge.  Be ready for them.

Figure out what you love and where you fit in.  Make your passion, or strength, work for you instead of trying to suppress it in lieu of your major.

Figure out what makes you unique.  When are you “in your element?”  What is so enthralling that you forget about time?

Those are your strengths.

Not the skills but the process.  When are you at your best?


Problem solving?

Finding common ground?


Figure out how to combine them with your book-learnin’ and you’ll be a force to be reckoned with.  You’ll also be more resilient when the hard times come – and they’ll come.

So figure out your passion and don’t work a day in your life.  And stop worrying about being judged.

This is the one time in your life when that doesn’t matter.



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