College and why it’s a place to learn how to learn

I’ve been thinking about the article I posted on social media all day today. I believe that college is a place for growth, and a place where young men and women have the opportunity to have a truly unique experience. And, I firmly believe that college is a place to learn how to learn. It’s part of why I love the work I do with high schoolers so much; guiding them on their journey to find a place they will thrive is thrilling to me (and a responsibility I don’t take lightly).

This time of year is a time of waiting for the seniors I’m working with, while my sophomore and junior students are making decisions about what classes to take and what activities to partake in that peak their interest. So often, students and parents come in thinking about the outcome…”If I get 20 points higher on my SAT score, what will my options be?”, “I like math and science so I think I should study engineering, should I take these classes?”, “What looks better to colleges AP US History or AP Lit”. While all these pieces are important to the application process, it’s so much more complex and specific to each student. I challenge students to think about their upcoming year in terms of what they want, not what they think colleges want or what their peers are doing. No two students are the same, and each requires a personalized approach.

My relationships with students starts with a period of reflection and a bit of soul searching, including asking about interests and learning styles. I think it’s imperative that students reflect on their academic journey. What brings them joy and happiness in school and life? What are things they are less interested in? Do they have hobbies or classes they’ve taken in school that piqued their interest in a particular area? Doing this allows us to set goals and prioritize what they want from life after high school. There are so many components of a college experience and students should be thoughtful about class size, curriculum flexibility, setting and location. In addition, I ask them to envision how they see themselves spending their free time and what kind of people they want to surround themselves with. Many high schoolers begin to find things they are excited about as they get into junior and senior year. Does your current junior love science and journalism? Finding a place to pursue both is important. The majority of the students I see are still unsure about what they want to major in. So, finding schools where they can pursue their interests and activities is critical. College is the next journey students embark on, and my goal is to help them find a place where they can learn to think and have an enriching experience where they are successful and happy.

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