A fist thumped my shoulder. “Hey, Matt!” a voice said. I jerked around. My best friend, Josh, plopped down beside me onto the high school lawn. “How’s it going?” he asked.
“Good, I guess.”
“Yeah. I’m thinking about college,” I said, “and it kind of scares me.”
“Really? I’m not even close to worrying about that yet. We still have a couple o’ years before we have to think about college.”
“Yeah,” I said, “but you gotta have a plan, bro!”
“Maybe.” Josh picked a long grass stem and chewed on the end.
“Hey, no maybe. No plan and you just spin in circles”―my finger twirled―“with nothing accomplished.”
“Mm, you have a point. But a lot can change in a year or two, so why plan now?”
“That’s true, but. . . well, because I want to be ready when the time comes.”
“So what’s your plan, Matt?”
“Dad said I need to learn to manage myself first off.”
“Mmhm! Sounds just like what a dad would say.”
“He’s right, you know. If a guy can’t control himself, how can he expect to get a grip on anything else? Dad’s cool. He convinced me to spend less time on computer games and texting, and add more reading.”
“You’re kidding!” Josh looked sober. “Nah, I don’t like to read.”
“Well, that’s just the point, isn’t it? We’ll do a whole lot of it in college, like it or not, and not just fiction, either. An online article I read explained how the warp speeds of computer games limit our ability to concentrate. College is going to take a lot of concentration, I think.”
“Yeah, I s’pose,” Josh threw his grass stem away.
Tyler walked up and dropped his book bag on the grass beside us. “Hi guys,” he said, “—and my lady!” he added with a mock bow as Samantha walked up and sat down, too.
“What’s up, guys?” she asked.
Josh lifted a derisive eyebrow and grinned. “Matt’s trying to convince me that I should start preparing for college. Like now?” He and Tyler chuckled, hooted and thumped knuckles together in agreement that I was dense to be concerned about college so soon.
“Cool, Matt,” Samantha said.
Josh and Tyler looked at each other. “Huh?”
“It’s just plain smart to prepare for college early,” Samantha said, ignoring Josh and Tyler. “I’m taking an Internet course called ‘How to Take a Test.’”
“Right!” Tyler said. “I know how to take a test – as fast as you can, so you get outta there!” Josh and Tyler chuckled over this hilarious joke.
Samantha didn’t laugh. “So, how do you take a test, Josh?”
“I start at the beginning and go to the end,” he said leaning back on his elbows with a smirk.
“That’s where you’re wrong,” Samantha stated.
“One of the pointers I got in this course is to read through all the questions at the beginning of the test and do the easy ones first.” Samantha looked seriously from Josh to Tyler. “Then you have the rest of the test hour to work on the difficult questions. That way, you don’t spend all your time on one hard question, and miss answering the easy ones.” She gave a little nod and looked smug. “Got it, guys?”
Josh and Tyler had to agree that this made sense.
“I’m learning a lot in that class.” Samantha shrugged her shoulders. “It just seems smart to me to plan ahead.”
“Thanks, Sam, for supporting my point.” I gave her a high-five.
She stood. “Gotta catch my next class, guys. Nice seeing you.” She started to walk away, then turned back. “Oh, and I’m teaching myself some shortcuts for taking notes. That way I’ll be able to keep up with all those college classes.” She adjusted her book bag more comfortably on her shoulder. “Or I may decide to take notes on my laptop. I haven’t decided yet, but I’ll get there. See ya!”
“Wow,” Tyler mumbled. “She seems to have it all together.”
“Yeah,” I agreed. “Planning ahead gives you lots of self-confidence. For college, we can all use a good dose of that.”