September has arrived way too quickly and for many, the carefree days of summer are over. Children are walking into their classrooms for the first time, older ones have left for college, and the rest of us get to sit in new traffic patterns formed by school bus pick ups.

Even if we are not entering the hallowed halls of school, chances are we have been “schooled” recently. Not in the truly academic sense where we gained a greater knowledge of mathematics or science, but we received an education nonetheless.

The term “schooled” is often heard on the ball field or in office antics. For instance, when a basketball player dribbles past the point guard, teammates may shout, “You just got SCHOOLED!” Or when a coworker wins the office pool, he may remind the staff they have been schooled. In other words, to get schooled is to have been taught a lesson, usually in a humiliating fashion.

So you’ve been schooled; now what? Say we got “schooled” on the ball court—chances are we’ll be more apt to perform an evasive move as we dribble past the defender. But what if the lesson we were taught was of deeper importance? Perhaps we didn’t receive a promotion we had applied for? Ended an unhealthy relationship? Recovered from a poor financial decision? We received an education from these mistakes as well. Are we learning from them? Are we applying the lessons we gained? Are we adapting skills so we don’t make the same mistake a second or third time?

Getting “schooled” doesn’t need to have a negative connotation. Sure the initial loss or rejection may not be pleasant, but the overall experience can prove invaluable. For instance, let’s go back to the lost promotion scenario. You felt you were the best candidate for the position but management felt otherwise. The pass over felt like a rejection, not just of your skills but of yourself. Did you let this completely discourage you or did you turn it into a learning experience? Did you allow yourself to get “schooled”, that is gain a valuable education?

At the time of year when many are returning to institutions of learning, take advantage of the various opportunities to gain an education that will be enduring. Though you may have graduated from your formal schooling, the truth is “schooling” is a continual life lesson thus making us smarter and (hopefully) wiser.