The College Application Process, the First of Many Life Transitions
Since I was a high school student, I had an instinct, a knowing, that I was going to work to empower teenagers. I saw the world around me diminish the teen voice, they seemed frustrated with our rebellion and became uncomfortable with questioning. It seems it is still this way today yet with increased expectations upon them. What I know is, teens have something to say, they are creating the new world and can be empowered to understand the old as they bring in the new. They are each a gift, even when they may be pulling away.
I have been a high school counselor for over 10 years and have loved every minute of listening and supporting each teen I worked with. They are all at the start of their journey; some may make mistakes and some make smarter choices than many adults. This is the dance of the nature of life experience. Even adults are all still figuring things out, yet we expect these young people to make only smart decisions and race toward a life build on highly selective schools, achievement races, and packed schedules. The most influential business leaders and innovators typically participate in coaching and explore resources and systems for top performance. I have a dream where we invest in teens, providing them with similar resources and coaching, supporting them as they define their own authentic expression,early rather than later!
In recent years, I became a director of college counseling and have coached my students as they create their next educational chapter post-high school. In the middle of this craze of college admissions, what I see is a wonderful opportunity for each student to learn major life lessons to prepare themselves for life as it unfolds into adulthood. You may think these life lessons are the common thought of strong academics, interesting job experiences, building a resume, and participating in rigorous courses. Some of these lessons are valid, but what I see as the gold, are the deeper opportunities for self-awareness that can be developed when walking through the college process mindfully.
“The launch from high school is a beautiful time to encourage students to reflect on who they are within.”
The college application process is like any other life transition that can occur through adulthood, like finding a partner, buying a home, finding a job, etc. These transitions take reflection, research, decision making, and alignment to make a leap. I live and lead in the college admissions world, both domestic and international. The typical college counseling I see is focused on selectivity and achievement race toward expectations of selectivity, rather than coaching students to identify their own unique aspects and interests. Imagine the goal shifting toward empowering the students to create a plan for long-term opportunities and options. Maybe we don’t know what is “best”? Can we trust that when our teen makes authentic and informed decisions they may know what is best for their next step?
Transitions can be tough, they can bring up feelings of enthusiasm, mixed with anxiety, uncertainty and clear options, courage, and fear. Yet, we don’t talk about this mixed bag. We don’t coach our students through the awareness of these transitions. We focus on the selective schools, the check-list of admissions, and building a portfolio colleges want rather than the authentic experiences for our students to grow. How did we get so far away from allowing our students to blossom naturally?
William Bridges, a author, and consultant a preeminent authority on change and transition says, “Transition is psychological. It is not those events, but rather the inner reorientation or self-redefinition that you have to go through in order to incorporate any of those changes into your life. Without a transition, a change is just a rearrangement of the furniture.” Do we want to send our students to university without the self-awareness to move through this transition with grace and success?
In the current swirling confusion of higher education, I knew I needed to do something to reorient students and families to the gift this transition brings to adulthood brings. BriteGuide was created as a coaching process to advocate for students to familiarize themselves with the voice inside that will guide them toward their own authentic success. Each young person is their own unique expression, with their own talents and desires. The launch from high school is a beautiful time to encourage students to reflect on who they are within. The goal is for the student to know THEMSELVES now, so they don’t have to shut off parts of themselves, search outside themselves, or struggle in misalignment, which can lead to frustration and a lack of fulfillment. Each young person should define what success means to them and begin to carve their own path.
I believe there is a knowing that is within each person. The answers were inside of me, they are inside of each of you.