DEAR HARRIETTE: After being a teacher in my district for 25 years, I was offered the position of school principal. I had already been thinking about retirement and everything I still want to see in the world. I was planning on retirement in the next 10 years, but if I accept this position, that wouldn’t be a possibility. The salary, however, is significantly more than I am making now. Should I take on this position to have a cushier retirement fund and sacrifice a few years still working? -- New Opportunities, Salisbury, Maryland
DEAR NEW OPPORTUNITIES: Congratulations on the honor of being offered the role of principal after so many years of service. Before you pass on the job, consider a few things. Start with why you think you would have to work for more than 10 years. Unless you have a contract that requires a specific tenure, this may not be a valid issue. What will be important is evaluating your energy level and your willingness to put in the work. Being principal is a much bigger job than being a teacher, and it requires different skills. You will have to establish a vision, administer a large staff and follow governmental guidelines. If you are up to the tasks before you, consider this a golden opportunity. Then set goals for yourself and work to meet them.
If you want to retire in a particular period of time, map out a plan that allows you to reach the academic goals you envision and retire as you desire.
DEAR HARRIETTE: I am going to college in a few months, and I am very nervous about it. I have never left home for a long period of time. I never went to sleepaway camp, and I never liked to sleep out of the house. I am nervous that I am going to get homesick and want to come home. I am scared that I am not going to like the people or the school. What do you suggest I do to prepare for the next four years? -- Nervous Student, Trenton, New Jersey
DEAR NERVOUS STUDENT: Find out what extracurricular activities are available at your school that are of interest to you. Join affinity groups that match your interests so that you fill up your free time. The more connected you are to engaging opportunities, the less time you will have to be homesick. Find out if any students from your high school or neighborhood will be attending your college. Do your best to connect with anyone you already know, at least for the initial transition time. While in your classes, notice students who share your interests. When you identify someone who may share similar preferences, speak to that person and see if the two of you naturally connect. Homesickness takes a backseat when you meet new friends and begin the adventure of your new life.
Also establish a regular time when you talk to your parents. You may start with a daily call and end up calling weekly. As you establish your independence, don’t forget to stay in touch with them.
(Harriette Cole is a lifestylist and founder of DREAMLEAPERS, an initiative to help people access and activate their dreams. You can send questions to email@example.com or c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)