The College Admissions Process - The Finish Line or the Starting Point?
The college application process is usually experienced by both parents and students as a nightmare period of stress and uncertainty. When the goal of the admissions process is simply to get into the best college you can, students miss out on a valuable opportunity to learn what their talents and values really are. But what if instead, the application process could be the key to discovering a student’s authentic self? Are applications the finish line or the start of a student’s best life? Is it the end of a marathon or the start of an exploration?
Anjali Maazel, a college counselor in Austin, TX, advocates that we foster teens’ skill development and workforce readiness through the lens of discovering and developing their authentic passions - and that the college application process is the perfect vehicle.
“Changing the conversation around college admissions is vital. Instead of focusing on "getting in" to a narrow list of schools, students should be guided to discover their mission in the world, their source of joy, and ability to make a difference,” Maazel told Cirkled In.
Maazel points out that both parents and students often hold deep-seated beliefs that unless kids become doctors, lawyers, or engineers, they won’t thrive. This, combined with the pressure to get into the most highly ranked college they can, can lead students to act through an automated, “check off the box” mentality, when the goal is simply to get into a good college. The process bears no connection to who a student really is or what makes her feel happy, excited, inspired, or connected.
Instead, citing a 2017 McKinsey study, Maazel shows how the skills developed through the arts and humanities may actually give students an edge in our automated, AI-driven future. Skills like creativity, critical thinking, empathy, and communication are all vital and highly desired by employers. Therefore, the opportunities for students to study what they love AND create a financially viable career are much broader than they typically think. Armed with this knowledge, students can then freely discover and develop their talents.
In the video above, Maazel shares her “3 D’s of Talent Development”: Discover, Develop, and Demonstrate. “This Ted Talk was designed to begin shifting the way we think of counseling teens and to provide a roadmap to connect with passion at any age. Portfolios and journaling play a large part in this process, so Cirkled In can become a valuable tool for reflection in the journey to college,” she says.
By using the application process as an opportunity to discover students’ talents and passions, connect them to their communities, and help them give back to others, we can help students develop a sense of purpose and deep connection to their authentic selves, which leads to happy, stable adulthood.