Some time in the junior or senior year the college tours begin, in our case ten of them. My daughter took it all in and didn’t get too worked up, but we could see the wheels start turning. Her real work began with the applications and the essays. The demands for college apps have greatly increased. The list includes: an essay, a personal statement, reference letters from teachers, ACT or SAT scores, GPA transcript and a list of service or volunteer work. The essay needs to convey how utterly important it is that your child is choosing “target university” over others.
They need to write it in their “voice” and keep it succinct and lively. As parents, we have given feedback and tweaks but it’s largely been her essay. We won’t be hovering long distance on future writing assignments so it’s best that she is on her way and figures out how to succeed (and struggle) on her own two feet.
This process contrasts greatly with my college application process as a Baby Boomer in the early 80′s in California, “the Land of Very Affordable State Schools”. I applied to one college, wrote no essay and got in with a “B” average. I’ve had a pretty solid career and I am now happily self-employed. I try to create balance for my daughter and demonstrate that “the college decision” is one cog in the wheel of life. Where you go to school doesn’t matter as much as the journey you take at the college of your choice and the relationships you build in that critical time of life. Being adaptable, persistent and resilient are some of the most important traits we can pass to our children.
The process of leaving home and becoming an independent adult at college can help fortify these personal attributes. Yes, college is important and what you do there matters. But in my 17 yrs of experience as a Professional Recruiter, it’s the launchpad to more challenge in the world of work. What companies value now in employees is collaboration, emotional intelligence, work ethic and the ability to learn what you don’t know.
The first job out of school is just as important as the choice of college, perhaps even more critical. Internships are a “must have” for any college graduate and our kids need to push back at the University to get these coveted roles. Pursuing work in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) opens up the world of employment since most jobs are now done with the use of a computer for virtually any role. The shortage of highly technical talent in the US is very real, we don’t have enough young adults pursuing computer science or roles in the “IT field”. These jobs are often moved offshore due to the shortage in talent.
My daughter will get into a college and most likely it maybe one of her top choices. She’s worked hard in high school to make this happen and we’ve been there supporting her along the way. She’s ready to fly (sooner than later) as the final semester of Senior year approaches. No matter what she pursues, her great work ethic and communication skills will carry her well in the “career journey” she travels.