It's been a fun week talking and reflecting with the seniors I've worked with over the past year or two. They are older, more mature, reflective and grateful for the journey. Many have said they are surprised how much they actually ENJOYED the application process, in hind sight. It was a time to learn about who they were and who they wanted to become. A journey of where they had been, where they wanted to go, and a process of figuring out how they'd like to get there. I am grateful to each and every one of them for allowing me to be on the journey with them. It has been an honor and a privilege.
Now, it's time for the Juniors to step up and begin in earnest their college process. Some have visited colleges while others have not. Some have had challenging junior years, while others have tried new things and new approaches. Some have done really well on the standardized tests, while others not-so-much. It's all good, and it's all going to work out. Ask the Seniors.
Just this morning I was thinking about what is key to a successful college journey. Is it finding the ideal Ivy League school? Is it working the system? Is it doing all the "right" and expected stuff? I guess we have to think about how to define "success." The seniors would tell you that it's about being your authentic self, being real, telling the truth. Try to trust that if you do the work--take the necessary steps--follow the highlighted path--it will work out. Perhaps not exactly the way you imagined, but you'll get pretty darn close, and you may find you enjoy the experience in the end.
Probably the best thing you can do at this juncture is to begin to explore what matters to you. What is important? What makes you excited to get up in the morning? What do you enjoy? What puzzles you? How are you curious? How are you unique? What do you believe in? What do you question? What is your sense of humor? These and many other questions are worth exploring on a personal level as you consider how and what you will WRITE for that Personal Statement--essay--college application. Again, be honest. You don't need to discuss it with your parents or friends, because this time it is really about only you and how you fit, or don't fit, into the world.
So, Juniors, you're up next!! Your time has come to pursue this next stage of your lives. You know you can do it because, after all, you just managed to survive and maybe even surpass expectations for your Junior Year! You are now Rising Seniors!! The summer will fly by and your last year of high school will be upon you. You'll be fine. Do the work.
And, parents? Trust your kids. They know who they are--or at least they have a pretty good idea. They have their futures to define. They'll finish applications, complete senior year, and move on in their lives. Give them a hug, a pat on the back, a gentle smile. Those moments will go a long way toward helping them as they take the next step.