Over my thirty years in higher education, I’ve met with hundreds of students. All these conversations have taught me something, and many hold a special place in my memory.
I met Vivian soon after she started her freshman year. I always begin meetings by trying to build a rapport with students, so I asked Vivian the usual questions. “Where did you go to high school, Vivian?” I asked.
“I didn’t,” she replied. “When I was in third grade, I walked out of the classroom, called my mother, and told her that school wasn’t for me.” From that day onward, Vivian was homeschooled.
I was stunned. Of course, I had never heard this reply before. Also, her confidence and self-knowledge astonished me: at the tender age of eight, she knew regular school would not work for her. She realized she needed a Plan B.
Vivian’s Plan B clearly worked for her. As a Make a Difference Scholar, she received a full four-year college scholarship for her academic promise and contribution to the community.
Vivian’s story never left me. Today, as a career counselor, I share it with clients who are unhappy in their current positions. I want to remind them that a Plan B always exists – if we have the motivation and courage to find ours.
May we all pay attention and know when.
-Renee Beaupre-White is Director of Career Services at Castleton University.