How to Raise an Adult by Julie Lythcott-Haims has caught the attention of educators and parents from across the country. Drawing upon her experience as dean of freshmen at Stanford University, she provides insights from both an academic and parental perspective. I could highlight an excerpt from each of her chapters that resonates with me and yet, I'd like to focus on just one- "Have a Wider Mind-Set about Colleges."
What makes the college admissions process less stressful? Well, I've asked this question to some really experienced college counselors out there and they've all said "a college list is best when it fits you." Lycott-Haims quotes a well-known educator in the college counseling profession who said, "he is concerned by a growing trend among his highly able seniors to make the college process into a game to be won rather than a match to be made."
I like to use a visualization strategy with some of my students who are struggling with finding a college of best fit. Here it goes: Close your eyes and imagine yourself walking through campus on a Wednesday morning. What does your campus look like? Is it filled with more people than trees or the opposite? Do you hear sounds of birds or sounds of sirens? When you enter your first class that morning, what does the room look like? Is there a round discussion table? A giant lecture hall? When you are done with classes for the day, how do you unwind? Do you grab coffee at a nearby cafe with a friend? Hit the trail to run? Grab a surf board? Later that night, you're feeling down and want to talk to your family. Do you call them? FaceTime with them? Drive over and see them? Do you reach out to your roommate or another friend on your hall instead because of the time difference?
I cannot assess the reliability or validity for my visualization exercise and yet it gets students to think. In particular, the part about their classroom really gets the wheels turning. For some students, they've been used to class sizes of 15 since kindergarten and if the idea of a 300+ lecture hall sounds great, well then some really large universities might provide a nice change of pace. However, if that sounds terrifying looking at smaller schools might be a more realistic route.
Looking for more tips on finding the right college fit? Check out my free upcoming workshop: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/college-planning-101-tickets-47904643077