We all know that standardized testing is a large factor in college acceptance. This number helps colleges and universities decide whether an applicant will be able to handle the rigor of post secondary education. Parents all across the country check their kids' grades, find SAT tutors, re-take ACT tests multiple times, all in search of an “acceptable” score for the colleges their child wants to attend. Once a child reaches their highest score, the score is submitted, the child receives their acceptance, and “off they go” to the school that fits them the best.
But is this the end game for parents and their children?
I’m going to ask a stupid question. Can a child lead a productive life but attend a school that isn’t selective in their admission process? Or here is a stupider question: Can a child lead a productive life and not attend college at all?
I would suggest that the end game for our youth is for them to become productive members of our society.
Notice I didn’t say the end game was to become a high income earner. Notice I also didn’t say to attend a highly selective university. I would hope we all can agree that we want our children to become contributing members to their own family, their community, people in need, and making the world around them a better place.
So, if we agree that someone can become a productive member of society even though they do not attend a selective university or even college at all, how do we get our kids to learn about being a productive member of society?
Let’s start with providing rewarding experiences for our children. Such as playing team sports, performing in a music ensemble, seeing places outside of their hometown, learning about other cultures, learning about “hard work,” and volunteering for others less fortunate than themselves.
Next, let's teach our children not to be centered on the “I-me” but more on the “we-us.” This mentality of being centered on the people around you and their wellbeing is paramount to the understanding of helping others. Giving our kids life lessons in “leaving a place better than you found it” and becoming a mentor to others are gifts that our kids can learn about even at a young age.
As parents, we should stay focused on the reality that attending an Ivy League school doesn’t guarantee success. Success is built upon a desire from within that is not connected to a diploma. By understanding this, we can now help guide our children towards a true connection of hard work, discipline, commitment, and service that can lead our kids to their chosen vocation.
College acceptance isn’t the end game.
The “end game” is found 30 to 50 years from when a child enters adulthood. When they can look back on what contributions they have made to their family, their friends, and their community. Maybe they will become rich. Maybe they won’t.
By breaking the idea that receiving admission into a selective university will bring our youth joy, happiness, and success, our children will now have a better understanding of the journey they are about to embark upon that doesn’t end once they graduate from high school.