"What did you wish you knew how to do and what did you wish you had already done a few times before you went off to college?" I asked a group of 500 very successful college seniors from all across the US in 2007.
The answers were amazing!
Then I posed the same question to a group of college drop-outs and to a group of men and women in the Department of Corrections who were 25-30 years old at the time of their incarceration.
The answers and the difference between the answers of these three groups were very important. So important that I wrote the book, "LAUNCH" which will come out next month.
Let me share a few....
"I didn't know how to change a tire" one Yale senior wrote, "and when my tire blew out, at night on a remote road, having to ask someone to help made me very afraid."
"I knew how to ask a girl to go out on a date but not how to tell her that a date to me meant dinner and a movie; not sex, without hurting her feelings" wrote a guy from the University of Texas. (Wanted to introduce that one to one of my daughters!)
"If I had known how to save money aside I wouldn't have stolen a credit card the day my pops died in another State. I should have had that $500 in the bank, waiting for an emergency. I've watched Dave Ramsey and I know that now.....wish I'd known it then." This from a 25 year old who is serving 3 years in a State prison for theft.
"My mother taught me how to say "No" but I did not learn from anyone how to ask a partner about their HIV status and how to demand, in a kind way, that they get tested. That will cost me my life." This came from a college senior at an Ivy League school who tested positive for HIV just days before graduation. The man she caught the virus from was her fiance and is now her husband. He didn't know he was positive either.
"When I was younger I did one assignment at a time, usually the day before it was due. My Coach taught me to make a Whole Semester Plan (one of the skills we teach students at College Bound Coaching) and it saved my academic career" wrote a student who was coached before reentering college after initially dropping out with a 1.2 GPA. He's now in medical school.
But my favorite were the unsolicited emails I received from the grandparents of many young people in this study. Here's a sampling:
"I didn't know how to cook for myself and how to store food so it didn't go bad in the fridge. Who knew you couldn't keep an open can of green beans for a week or that raw meat would contaminate the lettuce stored below it? I found out these things the hard way" wrote a grandfather.
"My mother always did the wash so I was amazed that you couldn't put a new burgundy sweater in with everything else. Now at reunions they remember my nick-name "Pinkie" faster than they remember that I led Harvard to a winning year of hockey."
"I didn't teach my oldest daughter about keeping her own immunizations up to date and how to check for changing recommendations about them. In 2006 she contracted meningitis and died. My younger two kids know everything about how to protect themselves. Life is too important not to transfer this knowledge."
... a tear stain was visible on this hand written note from a mom in California.
LAUNCH was written as a community-art project. I collaborated with all the people who sent in ideas; providing the structure and then researching each of the 80 steps chosen. And, as all work in the 21st century can LAUNCH is a book that will be continuously updated and expanded as readers and their contacts contribute additional material through the website, FACEBOOK and Twitter. It's a great book to share with a 13 year old at Bar Mitzvah or Bat Mitzvah or with a kid who's being Confirmed. Although the ideal time to begin LAUNCHING is in high school (or before) it's never too late and I've had preorders from high schools who plan to give it as a graduation gift and colleges who see it as a part of next years freshman orientation. It also can be used with people who's launches are onto rough seas; those in the correctional system, kids aging out of foster care and those with developmental challenges.
What were you glad you knew when you were launching into adult life? What did you wish you knew? What are important things that all young adults should know? I welcome your thoughts and, in advance I thank-you for sharing them.