Friday, October 26, 2007

Real Life Conversations at Prep School: Fighting Back

The backstory: It is college application season here at my school. I’m an advisor to seniors and so my homeroom discussion yesterday was filled with conversations about college applications. The students are at various stages of accomplishment with these applications. Some have submitted already; others are in the process of filling out the paperwork. At least one of my advisees has already signed on the dotted line at his chosen school. And at least one has his head firmly buried in the sand. In most instances, anxiety abounds.

The adults in their world – myself included – look at these young men and women and see in them their many virtues and accomplishments. They are smart, creative, kind, talented in all sorts of things. I am 100% confident that all of them will be admitted to a college where they will thrive. I believe in these kids and I know that they all have the potential to make the world a better place.

But my confidence in them is sometimes lost in the fog of the application process. They are filled with visions of their own inadequacy; worried about rejection letters clogging their in box. This frustrates me because in this, the last year before they head off into the world, I’d prefer to be in the business of celebrating their virtues and repairing their vices, not worrying about what college X thinks about them. Sometimes I want to boldly shout: IF THAT COLLEGE SAYS NO TO YOU, THEN IT’S THEIR LOSS, NOT YOURS. SCREW ‘EM.

But I hold my tongue and diplomatically remind them that there are many colleges out there and many roads to happiness. All of this made yesterday’s real life conversation at prep school that much more rewarding.

Me (speaking to L and J, two of my students): How are things?

J: I finished my application to First Choice College. Now I’ve got to start on the others. I’m tired of writing about myself.

L: I was filling out an application last night. The question was, “why do you want to attend Name Brand University?” and I’d had enough and I just wanted to write. “ You know, you’re not really that special.”

At that we all burst into laughter. These kids are going to be just fine.

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