What would you think are the hardest transitions students must make when moving on to college after graduation? Take a second and think about it. This is purely anecdotal but here are the observations and how they relate to working in the world of agriculture:
• The lack of breaks appears number one of the transition list. Other than two days off for fall break, a Thanksgiving break and Labor Day, classes meet and work needs to be done. The world of agriculture, depending on the time of year, has even less downtime. This is especially true during planting, harvest, calving and so on. You get the idea.
• Number two is setting priorities. Almost 100 percent of the students in agriculture at Barton work a minimum of 20 hours per week and most work much more. In addition they are enrolled as full-time students (at least 12 credit hours). Throw in trying to have a social life and being officially an adult and life becomes a little crazy for many. Something has to give when you add in sleep. For many it takes a period of time to find the right balance and focus on work and school. Often this awakening takes place after the first or second test. When dealing with perishable commodities, weather, and finite windows of time; the ability to set the correct priorities is vital to the success of any agricultural operation. Better now than on the job.
• Third on the list is freedom or maybe more accurately increased responsibility. Primary education differs from secondary education. Once a student enters college, the responsibility for their education becomes the student’s responsibility. The faculty and staff at an institution like Barton are there to do everything in their power to help students succeed but the responsibility to succeed is the student’s. Whether you are a self-employed farmer or work in some aspect of agriculture, discipline and responsibility are keys to your success. In college and in your career, you have the freedom to fail, or succeed. Once a student understands that they can take greater control of their life and assume more responsibility.
There is certainly more but the reason for bringing this up is twofold. It’s nice to take a break from the flood of information and news in the world of agriculture, much of it “bad.” And learning to successfully transition from high school to college helps students, future employees; learn the essential (soft) skills that employers indicate they find lacking in many job candidates.
Dr. Victor L. Martin is the agriculture instructor/coordinator for Barton Community College. He can be reached at 620-792-9207, ext. 207.