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Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Why Go to College?

by Katherine O'Brien, MA CCPS, Founder of Celtic College Consultants

Colleges offer an amazing array of opportunities from design your own courses to design your  major, to interdisciplinary approaches to a topic to double majors to various experiential learning offerings, and on and on and on. With such a dizzying array of choices, it is all too easy to get lost in the maze from the first day to the graduation stage. In fact, many students do just that, as they mosey from one semester to the next without any clear, well considered goal in mind.

According to the great philosopher, Socrates, the unexamined life is not worth living. Therefore, let us take a few moments while we are in high school to examine our lives in order to begin to formulate a goal. Once a goal exists, the possibility of creating a plan to achieve becomes a reality.

How does a teen profitably examine him- or her-self?

The teen years are fraught with difficulties. Bodies and brains are developing, maturation is beginning to manifest, one's horizon decidedly expands beyond the family; it's a time of massive transition. With all of those changes, many fall prey to anxiety, insecurity creeps in as they seem to not be as wonderful as other kids, and paralysis regarding the future can set in.

It is precisely into this quandary that I intrepidly enter. As a trusted mentor who is a parent but not their parent, is a counselor yet independent of the school, I am able to enter with a gravitas which is real but not stifling. 

I help teens come to know their core personalities. I affirm their core strengths, academic, leadership, social, etc. I identify possibilities for them. I guide them through exploration and evaluation of possible careers and majors and programs. I help them see for themselves, recognize what resonates within their hearts, and let go of what doesn't. I add the practical (what needs to happen to get from HS to that career, can you earn a living doing that?, is the field viable/will anyone be hiring in that field?, etc.) as well.

Working with a professional like myself, teens grow in confidence, clarity, and conviction about who they are and why they want to go to college. That completely shifts the criteria for college selection from random guesswork to focused benchmarks.

Let's collaborate. The national average time to earn a bachelor's degree does not need to continue to be 6+ years. With clear goals, some won't go to college, because it's not the right path for them. Those who do go, will go to schools that have the programs they need to both thrive as individuals as well as become equipped to succeed in their chosen fields.