Brothers Jackson and Hudson Sinik are a senior and a sophomore at Chaparral High School, respectively, athletes and, now, co-authors.
Their book, “An Unconventional Education,” explores critical life skills ranging from picking a major to managing money to interacting with police.
Frustrated that these topics were not discussed in school, the Sinik brothers decided to dedicate their summer to writing a book that delved deeper into those matters.
“We were working for the Congressional Award – a program where teens and young adults set goals in volunteer public service, personal development, physical fitness and expedition/exploration and receive awards – and one of the things that I wanted to do to make myself better was learn how to become more money savvy,” said Jackson. “The more I learned, the more I realized that schools don’t teach you those things.”
With the idea of writing a book about money management, they eventually saw the book evolve into a guide to success for recent high school graduates.
The brothers began exploring different sources and extensively researching the various topics. After compiling statistics and thoroughly examining the website collegescorecard.ed.gov, they felt like they had more than enough information to build their book.
“We found articles that gave financial advice as well as had revelations about college,” Jackson said.
The book begins with the student toying with the idea of whether to attend college and the steps that follow.
For college-bound teens, the brothers wanted to underscore the importance of what students should do during their time there as opposed to focusing on where they would go.
“We examined how it doesn’t matter where you go to college, what matters is what you do during your time there in your major,” Hudson said.
This was evidenced by a study performed by researchers Alan Krueger and Stacy Berg Dale in 1999 that the boy’s father found.
“A Princeton economist (Krueger) found that if there is a kid who got into Harvard but chose to go to a state school, that kid will earn the same amount of money,” said Robert Sinik. “It’s not about the school or diploma that hangs on your wall, it’s about the effort and the stuff that is done in school rather than the diploma that is earned.”
The next big topic covered in the book involves choosing a major its impact on one’s future.
As someone with plans to attend college next fall, Jackson wanted to encourage his counterparts to investigate the financial implications of their choice in major.
He feels that it is important for people to examine how much money they could be making after graduating and the implications it could have on the college loan debt they may run up.
Another major topic is interacting with police.
“When you get pulled over and the police ask you ‘do you know how fast you were going?’ the answer is yes and nothing more,” Robert said. “The less you say, the better off you will be.”
The book also examines a 2010 study performed by Cornell university researchers that concluded 48 percent of people who confess falsely admit to crimes they did not commit.
“Police have a hard job where they encounter the worst types of people frequently,” Jackson said. “However, there are cases where they will try to get people to confess to crimes that they often didn’t commit.”
Because of this, he encourages people who have been arrested to understand their rights to an attorney.
“We encourage people to ask for a lawyer if they have been arrested and to stay silent after doing so,” Jackson said.
Once the book was written, the boys wanted to share it with the world by having it published.
“Our dad did the publishing as an e-book on amazon,” Hudson explained. “Going through a publisher can take up to one or two years but we were able to do this in a few months.”
Despite being initially released as an e-book, the book can now be purchased in a paperback format via amazon.
Now that the book has had time to reach audiences, it has received positive reviews and has made all the time spent researching and writing over the summer worthwhile.
“Going through the process, there were some feelings of doubt, but these boys spent a lot of their summer writing this book and didn’t get to have a lot of fun,” Robert said. “For them to get through what seemed like an impossible task and to get positive reviews has been very rewarding.”
One of the best responses to the book so far has been the response by Jacksons wrestling coach.
“My wrestling coach liked it a lot and he even wanted me to sign it,” Jackson said with a laugh.
Even though the book has been a success and covers many topics, the Sinik’s hope that one thing resonates the most with readers.
“There’s a lot of things that can be taken away from the book,” Jackson said. “If there is one thing that I would take away, it is to plan ahead and research what you’re going to do.”
Despite finding success as writers, Jackson and Hudson are now looking forward to going back to doing the things they love to do like wrestling, playing baseball and mountain biking.
“Now we can go back to normal teen stuff,” Hudson said with a laugh.