Welcome to Fall 2014!
As you begin an educational trek that will transform your life, I would like to offer you three stories from my past for your journey ahead.
I once had a student tell me that she thought my tests were unfair because I required them to learn things that they didn’t already know. That is the crux of the educational enterprise… we expect you to learn things that you don’t know. Too often student are reticent to speak up in class when they do not understand a concept because they do not want to appear “dumb” or “stupid.” Simply put, we do not expect that you know everything, but hope that you will be open to learning. This learning can and will be achieved in class, during outside assignments, in casual discussions with classmates, or a thousand other places and times. Try to learn one thing each day that you did not already know.
When I graduated from college, I was sure that I wanted to be a lawyer. I took the LSAT and did quite well, but because I needed money I took a job in the insurance industry “for a couple of years until I saved some money.” My job was investigating and resolving multi-million dollar insured losses. This job put me in daily contact with attorneys which, in turn, led me to understand that I absolutely hated law. I left that job and took the first thing that was offered to me as a trainer in a mental health facility. It was still not quite what I was looking for, but it was close and helped me understand that I needed more education to find my fit. Through a series of sheer happenstance occurrences, I landed in academia and for the past 25 years it has been a warm and welcoming home to my skills, abilities, and knowledge. Create opportunities that will increase the chance that things will “happen” to you.
When I was doing my masters work, the late John Flowers gave me a B in psychopathology. I had worked hard and deserved an A… it was my strongest area and I had never gotten a B before. When I went to John’s office and ask why I had not gotten an A, he said, “You should have done better than you did.” I countered that I had written a better paper than anyone in the class, I had never missed a lecture, and that I had done well on the final. He eyed me for a second and then he said, “You did exactly what I asked you to do… no more than that. You did it better than almost everyone else, but you were capable of so much more. For you, it was C-level work. You were lucky to get a B.” John taught me that the only person who could really get in my way was me. Do what you are capable of, not what is required.
Put briefly, for the next two years we want you to learn new things, create extravagant possibilities, and do more than is required. It’s okay to have fun, get to know your colleagues, and enjoy life along the way.
Best wishes from all of the students, staff, and faculty at The Argyros School!
Assistant Dean, Graduate and Executive Education