[T]oday I'm calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education—and do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending some time each day reading a book. Maybe you'll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community. Maybe you'll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all young people deserve a safe environment to study and learn. Maybe you'll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. . . .
But whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it.
I know that sometimes you get that sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work—that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star. Chances are you're not going to be any of those things.
The truth is, being successful is hard. You won't love every subject that you study. You won't click with every teacher that you have. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right at this minute. And you won't necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.Most students like President Obama: maybe that would help make this a good, short reading exercise—and, of course, an opportunity to talk about starting the new school year with a commitment to engaging with the work.