Monday, September 6, 2010

Selection Month, Part 1

September is the month of selection.

Finalizing one's college list to be more exact.

I often tell my seniors: "You can choose where you apply, but you can't choose where you will be admitted. So choose wisely."

Last year our seniors embraced this guiding principle.

74% of the 343 college applications were deemed admissible by 110+ colleges and universities.

Many seniors were not only admitted to the majority of the schools they self-selected.

But they were also offered financial merit money to matriculate.

This year our seniors are off to a fantastic start! Many seniors have already finalized their college list. Others are getting closer.

Just today a senior came in and told me that he had spent the weekend researching and "soul searching" over college.

What he presented to me was his final college list.

The week before we had met and his college list looked like drip art, something of a hybrid between a Jason Pollock painting hanging in The Chicago Art museum,
and something my three year old would create if he were given goggles and a spray paint bottle.

His school list was sprayed all over the place, not just in terms of colleges, but types of colleges, from liberal arts schools to specialized schools, not to mention a panoply of college majors.

I shared my concerns. He listened. I told him that it was normal to be scattered, for the list to feel muddy and messy, and therefore emotionally to feel a bit overwhelmed, anxious, and bewildered. I reminded him that he had time for order to emerge from the chaos. For clarity to emerge from the convolution. And for confidence to emerge from the insecurity.

Somehow over the weekend, this student experienced a provocative convergence. Everything just came together in clarity.

Instead of 12 colleges. He now had 6.

Three colleges were "Likely" schools, two were "Target" schools, and one was a "Reach" school.

Pulling up his Naviance account - there they were listed under "Colleges I'm Interested In".

Looking up from my computer I could almost feel the palatable peace that had settled within in his own skin.

If there is one hope I have it is that I can help supplant a student's anxiety over the selection process with a sustained excitement for the application season.

In the next blog post, I'm going to explore the thought process that goes on in the college selection process. But not just the teen psyche. But also the parent psyche.