You’re not becoming a truck driver until you get through trucking school. That’s a given, right? You know there is this large obstacle between you and your ability to make a living as a truck driver.
However, that obstacle can actually turn into a friend if you can get through it. Of course trucking school teaches you much of what you need to know in terms of trucking basics, but it is easy to come to view trucking school as a frantic albatross around your neck, something that is holding you down and holding you back rather than keeping you on point.
Don’t let it. Don’t let the whirlwind overtake you and burn you out before you even get started. Be sure you position yourself to survive truck driving school, and don’t set yourself up for failure before you even start.
Truck driving school isn’t easy, but you can emerge from the other side a quivering mass of jelly, or a lean, mean trucking machine ready to take on the world. Here are some survival tips for getting through truck driving school with your faculties, your sanity, and your skills intact.
Study like crazy…BEFORE you start. Trucking school is fast-paced and many times it doesn’t slow down for anyone. So start the studying process before you start. You have a pretty good idea of what is expected of you at the outset, so why wait? Dig into that CDL manual right away, and memorize as many of the laws and regulations as you can before you ever hit the front doors of trucking school. Getting a head start is key in staying caught up.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. A lot of students experience the humiliation of being taunted for not knowing something in school at a young age. The embarrassment is enough to keep many a student with their hands in their pocket even when they have a question, and indeed many students would rather fail than risk that kind of shame. In higher education, whether it’s a university setting, a career college, or a trucking school, not asking questions when you have them isn’t just going to risk your grade, it can hurt your career. In this business, it can even endanger lives. Keep in mind that if you have a question, many others probably do as well, so speak up! You’re more likely to encounter gratitude than scorn if you ask a question.
Stay calm. If you fall behind, or feel like you’re not getting it fast enough, don’t panic. It’s far from uncommon, whether you keep forgetting to check your mirrors or just can’t remember all of your checklist items. Just keep plugging away and doing your best, and you’ll certainly get there.
Don’t skip class. Miss a day, miss a lot. This isn’t high school, where you can blow off class for a day at the mall without consequence. Trucking school is short-term, which means they pile the information on. If you miss a day, you could miss a key piece of information that can mean the difference between your CDL and a job washing dishes at the diner where the truckers eat.
Look at trucking school as an ally, not an enemy. It’s a great tragedy of society that we have allowed our children to come to look upon school as something they don’t want to do every day, and this bad attitude affects many people for the rest of their lives. Chances are it affects many truck drivers every day, too. For those who view education in this way, it takes a change in attitude toward school for you to maximize your potential as a trucking student. When you are about to embark upon a career path that you have designed to support you and your family for years and possibly decades to come, why not have fun with the process of learning how to do it?
You may have noticed that we haven’t even mentioned the actual act of getting into the truck and driving it. That is because many of the blocks that people encounter in CDL school is mental rather than physical. If you have gotten to this point in the process, chances are you have the tools necessary to physically drive a big rig. Master the mental side of the job and you’ll find yourself hitting your stride, ready to conquer the trucking industry!