As recent graduation ceremonies have called many people to look ahead, the prevailing question is “What am I going to do now?”
Then comes: “What do I see myself doing for the rest of my life, or (with less dramatic emphasis) for the next five years?” But Lucas Ryan, an Academic Coach at More Than SAT, says that’s a trick question.
“It’s hard to see yourself doing anything the rest of your life; you have no basis of comparison. I have no idea what it’s like to live past today; I can’t see into the future,” Lucas said. “You can’t see much trying to picture yourself doing something later, but you can see a lot when you do something now. The only way to find something that’s really ‘you’ is to jump in and do it.”
After Lucas graduated as valedictorian from high school, he headed to Carleton College, a small, private liberal arts college in Minnesota. After taking a good number of Biology classes in high school, he thought he would pursue Biology further in college. But by sophomore year when he was required to declare a major, Physics won as he was drawn into something new. Then junior year, he switched his major to something even newer that he enjoyed more: Math.
“I loved all the new stuff I was learning,” he said.
Not many Math classes were offered at his local high school in the small town of Peotone, Illinois, where he grew up. So, while he couldn’t see—back then—himself pursuing Math, it became the ‘something he jumped into.’
His response to any worries about losing time and money while switching majors: “It’s not a waste if you’re learning.” And he wouldn’t have learned what he likes without the academic exploration. “It’s part of finding who you are,” Lucas said.
At one point, he was intrigued by Photography, but then it turned out to be his least favorite class. “Something looked great on the surface, and it wasn’t until I dove into it that I realized, ‘What was I thinking, I can’t do this any longer than this term.’”
After he happily chose to continue Math, the future-plans question arose. “My parents kept asking me, ‘What are you going to do with Math?’” He approached it just like he did the picture-yourself ‘trick’ question, answering as far as he knew from what he had jumped into. “I told them, ‘I’m not sure yet, I just like Math. And if what I do is going to involve one subject, it’s going to be Math.”
As an Academic Coach for More Than SAT, Lucas is helping many students better understand math and physics for their classes and in preparation for the ACT and SAT exams.
This fall, he will return to Science as he enters graduate school at the University of Minnesota for the microbial engineering program so that he can pursue genetic engineering. “This brings in some of the more abstract Math classes,” he eagerly notes.
He also notes that he wouldn’t have seen this bigger picture now if he hadn’t explored back then.
You can request Lucas Ryan for one-on-one academic coaching in math and for preparation for standardized tests or college entrance exams. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.