I'm not a student currently, but I was a terrible student in secondary school and it is one of the biggest regrets in my entire life. I was a cynic and a misanthrope, and I went through an existential crisis. I just didn't give a shit about school. I figured, what was the point of all of this? We get an education so we can get careers so we can work to retirement and then live out the rest of our elderly lives with lots of money. That's how I saw things, and I was just too damn apathetic to apply myself. I ended up being the pathetic guy who was in high school for 6 years. The only benefit of that was that I got to take more classes than the average student, but I didn't pay attention or give a shit about my grades in any of them anyways.
I just took the classes that I thought would be easy, rather than what would be beneficial to my future. I hadn't taken Physics, Biology, or Chemistry and this has been a huge disappointment for me as these are things I'm endlessly interested in — it really sucks knowing so much about Quantum Mechanics and String Theory and not knowing any of the math behind it. I held the view that grades weren't important, it was the actually learning something that was important. I'd seen many kids get 80-90% in classes and still be dumb as a box of rocks, even in that subject. This was because they did their work, but didn't actually commit the information to long term memory, just short enough to pass a test. I had looked at school the other way. But obviously I now see the importance of both. The grades are what allow you to pursue that knowledge further in higher education.
I was not, nor am I now, a stupid guy. I just lacked the will to apply myself. On my last semester in high school, I was given an ultimatum by the Vice Principal that if I start failing a class, I get kicked out of the school. So naturally, I got a 90% average on that last semester and got my OSSD (diploma). That was all it took on my part; motivation, maturity, and discipline. But it was too little too late. I couldn't go back and redo everything. I was stuck reflecting on my past errors, as I am today. I was easily bright enough to get a scholarship, even multiple. But I just didn't see the potential at the right time.
So here is the situation I'm in now: I can't afford college and I can't get a loan because my parents make too much; I am trying to find a job in a city with one of the highest unemployment rates in Canada; I can't afford to move or move out to become eligible for OSAP (Ontario Student Assistance Program). One alternative I've found however, is subsidized education through the military (among a plethora of other benefits). Thus, I will be enlisting for full-time in the Canadian Army as an Infantry Soldier in a few months. This choice has been a bit of a departure from the choices I tend to make, but it's change in a good way. It has inspired me to get in shape, build discipline, has given me some semblance of direction. I don't plan on making a career out of it. I'll just be in there long enough to get the education I require and finish my contract (so, several years).
In conclusion, my message is to anyone who is still in high school right now: don't cop out. Despite what your angst-filled teen self believes, the choices you make in your high school career can affect your future significantly. The key is direction. Find a path and pursue it, but with your eyes open to paths parallel to you.
Update: March 11, 2012
It has been several months since I wrote this blog and circumstances have changed, as they do; unforeseeable events have altered my predetermined paths. The situation is currently this: I was not able to join the Canadian Armed Forces as international affairs have had it so that they needed not to recruit this year (or only extremely minimal recruitment). However, after getting a job and saving money, I've amassed enough savings to move to Ottawa with my brother come the first weekend in April. From there I will need to get a new job, which will be much easier as the economic situation is much better there than Windsor and has a larger job market.
As for school, I am currently undecided. I do plan on pursuing higher education, though I'm not sure in what direction I should pursue it in. But for now, I'm just going to focus on stabilizing my living situation and financial security before I make any big decisions.
Point is, I'm finally on a steadier track to a brighter future and it feels good.