College Essay

Humans are strange creatures. Although we are advanced thinkers, we do not listen to simple advice. We frequently hear, "smoking will kill you", or "listen to your parents", or "I wouldn\'t do that if I were you". We might follow this advice and live a happy, healthy life, benefiting from the experience of others. However, we don\'t. What is it that causes this selective hearing? Do we just not hear it? Possibly, simple advice never really seeps into our consciousness. More likely, though, is that we just want to learn from our own mistakes

"Be careful" is a mother\'s parting comment to every child across the globe. The command contains many implied meanings, including staying safe, making good choices, driving carefully, hanging with the right friends, or wearing a hat when the weather\'s cold. Our parents recognize that we are facing the same challenges that they did, and in trying to be responsible guardians, their advice comes often. It may be the frequency of the warning that dilutes the message. Consequently, their advice goes mostly unheeded. It is similar to the economic concept of diminishing marginal utility: with every extra unit one receives, the less effect each unit has.

I learned the hard way. As I left to roller blade one day in April, my mother called out, "Be careful". Less than two hours later, I had cracked my kneecap after smashing into a curb. Like most other 14 year olds, I had spent sunny afternoons playing ball or running around with friends. I was a typical reckless teenager, full of high spirits and obsessed with speed. After my fall, when the doctor had told me that I wouldn\'t run on a soccer field anytime in the near future, my heart was broken along with my knee. Spending six weeks in a wheelchair and two months on crutches gave me an appreciation for the validity of my mother\'s worry. The incident crystallized the value of simple advice for me.

So, do I still ignore my mother\'s parting comments? No. Certainly, the most important lesson that day may not have been to simply wear kneepads, but rather, to have an open mind to once-unheeded advice. My parents pass knowledge and wisdom to me in order to protect and guide me against making the same mistakes they did. Choosing not to listen is simply being lazy and sometimes imprudent. In addition, living on my own at college will add another challenge, as advice from parents will become sporadic. Being on your own and following your conscience will then become important for scholastic achievement and personal growth.

I have learned to open my ears, to heed the advice of others, and to let the pieces of the puzzle come together. Although we are excited to discover the world ourselves, finding the middle ground between acting on the advice of others and seeking our own experience is the intelligent approach.