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Tuesday, September 3, 2013
A Message for Parents of College Hopefuls
This is the sentence that first hooked me: "At the very moment when teenagers are invited to offer what they've learned and who they've become, their voices are hijacked by well-meaning adults who think kids can't possibly be allowed to risk answering these questions on their own".
This writer is a college consultant, and her entire article can be found here: Wall Street Journal
What a divine point. You've been preparing to go to college for years. You've invested time into school, sports, art, service, travel and living life. You've thought about where you want to go, and why. Now you're sitting down to chisel out a personal statement.
It may be one of the most important essays you ever write. And your parents don't want you to do it alone.
That might be wise. The stakes are much higher these days, and the coveted number of spots is fewer. But there's something to be said for the idea of hijacking a young voice. There's an innocence, a rawness, and an authenticity that a seventeen-year-old possesses, which most forty-year-olds no longer have.
How then, can an adult impose the filter of their own experiences on those of someone half their age? They can't, and letting go involves a certain leap of faith. I'm not sure I'll be able to do it by the time my kids apply.
Yet it's the risk itself that makes applying to (and attending) college such a pivotal experience. Perhaps the essay should reflect that. Which is to say, you can offer to help polish it, but the words-imperfect as they may be-need to come from your teenager's heart. The colleges can take it or leave it.
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