8. the magic begins a scene you really wanted to be in the movies but wasn’t → career advice
“Well, then, I am confused…I’m afraid I don’t quite understand how you can give Mr. Potter false hope that —”
“False hope?” repeated Professor McGonagall, still refusing to look round at Professor Umbridge. “He has achieved high marks in all his Defense Against the Dark Arts tests —”
“I am terribly sorry to have to contradict you, Minerva, but as you will see from my note, Harry has been achieving very poor results in his classes with me —”
“I should have made my meaning plainer,” said Professor McGonagall, turning at last to look Umbridge directly in the eyes. “He has achieved high marks in all Defense Against the Dark Arts tests set by a competent teacher.”
I’m just gonna hijack this post for a moment, but I’m bringing it back to Harry Potter so just bear with me because I know not many people read my posts, but if you are reading it, and you’re in middle school or high school or college, pay attention cause this is important. And if you’re a teacher, pay attention cause I’m talking to you to.
When I was in high school I went into career counseling and advising sessions with a few different people to help me look at university and scholarship programs. At my first meeting, I said I was interested in looking into becoming a chemical engineer. It was suggested I look into becoming an English teacher instead.
I intend no offense to English teachers, cause crap that’s a hard job but it’s not for me.
Another meeting with another person. I asked for advice on applying for a scholarship program that would basically pay for four years of school plus a stipend, as well as give me inclusion into an honors program. I was encouraged not to try, and to instead focus my energies on applying for a couple of scholarships that would help buy my books the first year.
Understandably discouraged, I put things off. I signed up for an English Literature program at a local school. Last minute I decided to try for a scholarship and I went to one of my teachers to see if I could beg them into writing a half-way decent recommendation letter for me. I was embarrassed and almost didn’t even ask because it was so late in the game.
But you know what? He didn’t even complain about that. He wrote me the letter and told me what he put in it. He explained the high academic standards I had - top of my class actually, once I really stopped to think about it. He mentioned the dedication and leadership skills I demonstrated in my extracurricular activities. And he told me he thought I had a good chance and hoped his recommendation was an accurate reflection of the skills I had.
I saw him a couple of years later, when I was finishing my master’s degree (NOT in English Literature). And it’s just occurred to me I never properly thanked him for encouraging me to try, cause I don’t know how I would’ve paid for 8 years of school if I didn’t have the scholarship I did.
My point is this: there’s an unfortunate lot of Umbridges out there. And when you’re lost in life and trying to figure out where you fit it, it’s unfortunately easy to listen to them. They just don’t want to give you false hope, after all.
But thankfully, there’s a lot of McGonagalls too. Learn to seek them out, because these are mentors you want in your life. They’re honest and fair, willing to see the best in their student’s even when they don’t see it themselves. Sometimes this means pointing out successes, and sometimes it means dealing out consequences because you really should expect better of yourself.
And when you do “make it” and you grow up and you’re faced with people desperately needing some direction in their lives, don’t be an Umbridge. It might mean staying up late writing a couple of last minute letters and stepping out to stand up for a kid who really might not make it, but go for it anyways: be a McGonagall.