In Orange County, California, we were rocked by the suicide of a middle school and high school student in the same week. It is horrifying and makes the statistics about the dramatic rise in teen suicide hit very close to home.
Being a teenager can be uncomfortable and at times stressful. The pressure to fit in, please parents, and stay true to oneself can create conflicts and turmoil when coping mechanisms are not fully developed.
Preparing for the college admissions process shouldn’t add to the angst. Applying to college should be an exciting chapter for high school students. It represents infinite possibilities for classes tailored to a student’s academic interests, diverse perspectives, opportunities to study abroad, internships, and lifelong friends.
Yes, studying for entrance exams can be tedious at times, and it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to earn good grades in high school, but our students must know that there is a college waiting for them and all they must do is their best to get there.
Many students come to me and ask what ACT score or GPA they need to get into college. My answer is the same regardless: simply your best. We can find schools that fit any profile because they are out there and the path to becoming a healthy, happy, and financially independent adult does not run through any one school.
It is a fool’s errand for any family to compare their child’s test scores or GPA relative to any other student’s. After all, many of the most selective colleges reject 90% of valedictorians and students with perfect SAT or ACT test scores. Said differently, colleges are looking for more than a GPA or test result.
It is up to us to empower students to follow their passions and create their own paths in this process. This is what admissions officers look for in their applicants, and just as importantly, it removes the artificial pressures of the high school rat race by liberating students to pursue what matters to them. It creates a win-win, as this approach enables students to stand out and earn admission to a college that is a great fit for them.
We must inspire our kids to view the challenges of high school as preparation for their own unique futures and to develop the confidence that they can tackle any challenge or obstacle they face. Their resilience will define their success far more than any transcript or degree hanging on a wall ever will.