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You’ll Never Quit Taking Tests. . .If You’re Smart

November 1, 2016

Not smart as in having a high IQ, although that helps. 

My kids are excited about the prospect of getting done with high school. I have four juniors, a sophomore, a freshman and two eigth graders. The sixteen year-olds are looking at “one more year” and then being done. It’s been a while, but I can remember those days. When I started high school, my school was just transitioning out of an “open classroom” concept. The school was built around the concept that if you expose kids to knowledge, they will absorb it simply because they are interested in it. 

It didn’t work. Kids don’t want to learn. They don’t want to take on research papers and learn about the parts of a cell. By my junior year, the experiment was pretty much over. What it really meant for those of us attending Timberline High School in Lacey, WA was that we suddenly were faced with “finals.” 

After two years of having the school year sort of “end” with maybe a few missing assignments turned in on the last day to get your grades up just a little higher. We were now confronted by these final exams. Pass the final-pass the class. Fail the final and you might be back in Mr Kerrihard’s International Relations class again next semester. 

It was tramatic. . .and we hated it. . .and it was one of the best preparations for business life that I got out of high school. 

I took a test today. It started at 5:00am and I took it in my home office. It was on “Business of IT – Applications.” I had no idea when I started on a career in IT decades ago just what a role tests would play in my life. Several years ago I sat for the hardest exam I’d ever taken: The Project Manager Professional (PMP) exam. It was four hours and really hard. And it was tramatic. . .and I hated it. . .and it was one of the best things I could do for my career. 

Since then, I’ve acquired  CompTIA A+ certification, Network+ and Security+. I’m working on the CIW Web Design Specialist certification. I also plan on working on the JavaScript Specialist certification along with CompTIA Linux+ and the Amazon Web Services (AWS) certification. 

Do I have to take these courses and certification exams? Nope. In fact, my company doesn’t have a training program. I not only am taking these courses myself, I’m paying for them myself. I’m a little disappointed that I cannot take more courses. But, I only have so much time and these are not particularly cheap. 

Why subject myself to these? I’m done with school right? My kids think that once they’ve passed that final exam next year, they are done with tests. Some of them want to go on to college and they understand that there will be tests for college courses. But, I think most of them foresee a time when they are “done.” 

I used to think that. Several years ago, I got a really good job with a company that I loved working for. I thought, “That’s it. I don’t have to keep working on adding certifications.” But, a funnny thing happened. I very quickly fell behind my peers. And when that company did layoffs a few years later, I found myself at a huge disadvantage. Sure, I lacked the certifications, but more importantly, I lacked the skills. 

It was a real wake-up call that not only could I lose a job through no fault of my own, but that I needed to take responsibility for my continued education. 

I intend to continue taking tests as long as I can. Hopefully, they’ll help me get smarter. 

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss
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LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2016 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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