August 03, 2007

Decisions, Decisions

In my working life, I am a matchmaker. Of sorts. I mean, I'm not a yente. I deal not with young adults in search of marriage, but with college-bound students who are caught between the stories they've been raised on – "you can do anything you want" – and the reality of their cumulative gpa's.

I am just now starting to get back in touch with some of "my" rising seniors, and the two emotions that color our conversations are excitement and fear.

The excitement is all about finally getting to test their wings a bit... new town, new space, new friends, new challenges. And the fear? The fear is about being unwanted.

Some of my students are keeping it all in perspective. But the ones who are anxious are turning their anxiety like a laser beam on the decisions that await them.

Not their decisions. But those of the colleges to which they'll be applying.

And what I'll be saying to them, over and over again in the coming months, is that it is THEIR decisions that count. Where to visit. What questions to ask. Whose advice to accept. Whose to ignore. How far is too far? How close is too close? How many application essays is too many to do a great job on?

You need to decide, I'll say to them, how comfortable you are with risk. How ready you are for change. How willing you are to let go. How prepared you are to stand up for what you want. How able you are to turn criticism into fuel.

Sure, the colleges will be making decisions. But that's months away yet. Right now, my seventeen year-olds are in the driver's seat. If I can just get them to grab that wheel.

(Thanks to the women of Sunday Scribblings
for their continuing inspiration.)


Anonymous said...

Oh, I remember that nerve wracking time all too well. I wish someone had told me how important the decision was...and to look beyond just the name of the school.

Your "kids" are lucky to have you. :) You are asking them the right questions.

Stacy said...

I very much agree that they must realize that they are in charge.

And I am totally calling you the yente of college admissions. I love that idea!

Regina Clare Jane said...

Hubby is looking to do some post-grauate work and he has been looking back to his college days and saying... "Why didn't I do better?" Ah, you just never know what the future holds... but it is as you say, Shelley- how illing are we to take a risk, to let go, to stand up for what we want?
It doesn't matter how old you are for those decisions!

forgetfulone said...

I have a step-daughter going off to college in a couple of weeks, so I relate to your post. My sister is also a senior high school counselor. I don't envy the hard work you do! It's a calling. Your "kids" are fortunate to have someone who cares about their well-being.

Patois said...

Oh, so very true. I remember it from my long-ago youth. All the decisions to make before any decision could be made.

gautami tripathy said...

I relate. As a teacher, I try my best helping my students making decisions. I tell them the pros and cons and let them decide.