Piggy and I are both card-carrying members of the Highly-Educated Older Millennials Making a Liberal Arts Degree Work Come Hell or High Water Club.

High School Students Have No Way of Knowing What Career to Choose. Why Do We Make Them Do It Anyway?

We have a favorite reader demographic. And no, it’s not fellow personal-finance-slash-chicken enthusiasts, though they’re a damn close second!

It’s the Younglings. The sweet children of winter who live in the wild, welcoming woods of Tumblr. They are wise beyond their years, eager for our advice, and willing to politely overlook the old-ass pop cultural references they don’t understand.

Crying Native American man, Geocities, “fingerprints,” carrying no more than exactly 2,000 pounds of meat, the shoeing of George W. Bush, and Pogs, Pogs, Pogs!

A very frequent question we get from them concerns the choosing of a future career path. For high-school-age kids, there’s a lot of pressure to articulate some kind of plan for what you want to study, and how you’d like to translate that into a job. It’s appallingly weird that we would set such questions to fifteen-year-olds! Especially given all the ways that we as a society fail to help them find the answer.

But seriously, though: Pogs.

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How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love Financial Math

I fucking hated math in high school.

It was torture. Though I did ok throughout Algebra I and Geometry, once I got to Algebra II… the wheels came off the bus. I listened to entire lectures on logarithms delivered in the voice of Charlie Brown’s teacher. I didn’t understand why it mattered, its practical application, nor why I needed it.

And to this day I’m convinced my teacher was a sociopath who derived great joy from my confusion. Let’s call her Dorothy Ball because her fucking name was Dorothy Ball. (How you like me now, Dotty?) She was one of those teachers who, instead of motivating students to give it their all, slowly crushed the joy of learning out of me and convinced me that I was a feeble-minded and frivolous girl for not picking up what she put down.

Clearly I wanted to learn math—or at least I cared about my academic standing—because I remember sitting through a meeting with my mom and Ms. Ball to come up with a strategy for improving. I’ll never forget that meeting.

With great pity in her eyes, she said, “It’s ok that you’re not good at math. You’re good at other things. So let’s just shoot for passing, ok?”

The callous harridan was right: I was good at other things. Like mentally eviscerating those who dared to condescend to me.

But, as we all know… I still needed math to survive.

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