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If You Can’t Learn Math, Maybe It’s Not Your Fault

My experience in higher education was unusual and erratic. I eventually earned a master’s degree in International Studies, but long before that I was a high-school dropout.

One thing I haven’t talked about much is that I’ve never been able to learn higher math: algebra, geometry, calculus, or anything of the sort. It’s not for lack of trying, or at least it wasn’t for a while. (I have zero interest in trying to learn it these days.)

No, I tried and I just couldn’t learn. I tried over and over and it never got any easier. Lots of people tried to help. I read books and went to study groups. But no matter what I did, it didn’t sink in.

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New Opportunities in Travel Hacking: Free 30-Minute Presentation

Link: Free Travel Hacking Presentation

My inbox has been crowded with a lot of traveling readers asking the same questions. Some people are worried and others are just confused. Why?

Well, if you’ve been travel hacking for a while, you know that a few things have changed recently. There’s a big 100,000 point offer, but a) it’s expensive, and b) a lot of people can’t get it. One of the main card issuers now has a “5/24” rule, meaning that you can’t get any new cards if you’ve applied for more than 4 in the past two years.

At the same time, there are a lot of promising new offers—so what should you do? In a free upcoming presentation, I’ll tell you exactly what you need to know.

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Just Because It’s Supposed to Work Doesn’t Mean It Will

Dan finished his education degree without ever stepping into a classroom.

After he graduated, he realized he didn’t like teaching and wasn’t good at it. The very first day of student teaching, where the goal was to serve as an intern before accepting a full-time position, he knew that this was not the career for him.

You’re probably thinking: hey, that’s life! He just had to stick it out, and then he’d be fine. And it’s true, sometimes there’s a learning curve on the road of purpose. We’re supposed to challenge ourselves, and it takes time to gain real-world skills.

This was different, though. Dan really didn’t like teaching. It felt uncomfortable and unnatural. He knew he could probably soldier on through the internship, but he didn’t want to go any further.

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The Resumé of Failures

For every success, there are countless failures. Yet when we look at someone from the outside, especially someone who’s been particularly successful, we may not see the failures.

Scientist Melanie Stefan issued a challenge for academics to share their “CV of failures,” a formal listing of all the programs from which they were rejected, the funding they didn’t get, and the journal articles that weren’t published.

Here’s how she explains the idea:

"My CV does not reflect the bulk of my academic efforts — it does not mention the exams I failed, my unsuccessful PhD or fellowship applications, or the papers never accepted for publication. At conferences, I talk about the one project that worked, not about the many that failed."

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There’s No School for What You Need to Do

At one of the stops on my current tour, the bookstore host introduced me by saying in part “... and Chris earned a master’s degree in International Studies from the University of Washington.” It surprised me a little because no one else has ever mentioned that in any introduction that I can recall.

Sure, it’s public information, but who cares? No one reads my blog because I went to college. No one buys my books or comes to an event because I earned an advanced degree, or any degree for that matter.

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Going Back to Kindergarten at Age 28: Melia Dicker’s Quest

This is a quest case study. (Read others or nominate yourself.)

Have you ever wanted to go back to part of your school days knowing what you know now? In her part-Billy Madison style, part-personal development quest, Melia Dicker did just that.

Himalayas
I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. As a kid, I loved to write stories and draw, but as I got older, I began to focus on school at the expense of everything else. I put immense pressure on myself to get perfect grades and test scores.

I operated under the assumption that doing well in school would lead to a life as a happy, self-assured, and financially stable adult. But six years out of college, I realized that I was none of those things. The habits that had made me an excellent student were the very habits that made me terrible at being an autonomous adult.

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