So I hit my first college experience as a parent—as a New Englander which means a foreigner since my own college-entrance experiences included only the midwest and southwest.
There seems to be a lot of credit, prestige, hopes, and finally, shame built into where our NorthEast kids go to college. Is it the fear of a good-life vs. becoming the guys with the cardboard signs in the middle of traffic? Has it become a parent-as-helicopter do-over sport? Is it wanting what is the published ‘best’ or actually in-the-heart best? And in that case what eighteen year old can be sure of a ‘fit’ by a PowerPoint info session and stroll around campus with a work-study student or teams of admission officers who have 90,000 applications* to review?
How can we know where success lies? Which door, quad, classroom, roommate or professor?
I teach college students and I have some ideas and it isn’t included in any brand or off-brand marketing. Success lies: 1) In a working alarm clock 2) Practicing a system of time management and to-do lists that prioritize 3) Getting enough sleep 4) Choosing (yes: choosing) inspiring friends 5) Sitting in the front and taking notes (even introverts can practice eye contact) 6) Making friends with the Librarians 7) Doing the work and understanding criticism isn’t personal 8) Understanding your professors have bad days too and knowing that they understand there is growth around every corner, there is always room for revision, and they’ve also been students and might also be parents 9) In knowing the college classroom is only one optional step into independence and 10) these truths apply to any and all academic institutions.
* update: my son went to our fabulous State University for 2 years, worked hard, then transferred to UC Berkeley where he’s succeeding in the college of chemistry. His work, his direction.