PROBLEM: Typically parents and students choose colleges with no clue of the student's career path, and by extension, what college major ought to be selected that fits that path. A path implies a direction, not a destination, which I will describe below.
With no real direction, how do you choose a college major? Then a college? To make matters worse, with a typical state school offering 87 majors (UMass), or a private school offering 120 (Boston University), how does an 18-year-old decide on which major?
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My solution starts with a metaphor: Parents intend on taking a trip very soon, but they don’t know what the destination is, what will determine the destination, how they are going to arrive, or what it's going to cost. All they know is they need to take the trip, it's got to be soon, and it's going to be expensive.
No destination, no map, and a very vague idea of what it's going to cost.
In a word, people have the process all backwards. Obviously, you have to start with a possible destination, then a map, and the money it takes to make the trip.
In planning for college, you have to start with the student’s direction, that is, a career possibility. How do you determine a career for a 16-year-old? It’s not hard. Not any more.
SOLUTION: Major corporations use personality testing to discover if a candidate for a job position has the emotional equipment required by the position they want to fill. They can be looking at a perfect resume, but the testing reveals someone unsuitable for the job.
I use a specific personality mechanism used by major corporations - not the abysmal free ones on the internet - to determine what occupations best fit the temperament and personality of the student.
Once the student sees what really appeals to them, it becomes a “fit,” a possible occupation that makes real sense to the student. When this discovery is made, the stress levels on the family go w--a--y down. And oftentimes, it's even exciting.
What I am doing with 16- or 17-year-olds is providing the direction to their make-sense destination. That destination can have plenty of subsets. For example, there are over 20 different nursing careers which allow the student to find one that's close to being custom-tailored. The final choice is the destination; I provide the direction to that destination.
This discovery is largely responsible for reducing all the stress of college planning significantly. High school guidance counselors do not do any of this. But it’s what I do, and it’s foundational to everything I do with my students.
Without this foundation, college planning for parents is reduced to two activities: guessing and hoping.
Guessing takes several forms, such as parents, teachers and friends telling your child that her terrific talent will get her into a vaguely-defined "great" college, or visiting a college and thinking, "This place gives great vibes." Oh really?
But where's the "fit?"
Families will guess that they are doing the right thing and hoping their guesses will pan out.
What are the consequences?
With a national average of 70% of college students (64% selective colleges,81% public colleges) taking 5 and 6 years to graduate, it’s evidence that the foundation was never there at the beginning of the process, and guessing and hoping produced a very expensive and frustrating result.
To prevent this from happening to you and to leave Stress City, please feel free to contact me for a chat and we'll discuss your concerns. As usual, no commitment and no obligation. What do you stand to gain if you don't contact me?
My strategy has proven to give the student a far greater advantage in the admissions office because colleges place a premium on who you are, which is not easily recognized on a list of extracurricular activities, test scores, or application essays.
The greatest life-lesson your child will learn from working with me: Who you are will always triumph over what you know. Even in the admissions office.