On Thursday afternoon, I sent this email to all members of the Classes of 2016 and 2017. Parents may find this message of interest. I strongly recommend reading the articles at the end of this blog post.
Dear seniors (juniors, I suggest you lean in and listen too. This will be you soon enough):
As you know too well, May 2 is “decision day.” Some of you chose long ago where you will be next September, and some of you are doing your final discernment this weekend. Either way, be at peace. For far too long, you have been bombarded by messages telling you that where you go to college is who you are.
That is bunk. Period. Who you are is who you are.
I know enough of you to know that you are an amazing group of young people—talented and bright and most of all deeply caring of one another. You are smart and filled with faith and courage and intellect and ready to change the world.
So be at peace. Wherever you go next year, you will be superbly prepared. You know how to write, and to think critically, and to problem-solve, and to create and imagine, and most important of all, you know that you are loved, and you know how to love. You will be fine.
Whether you got into your “first choice” college or not, you will find yourself in a wonderful place next year. You get to pursue your passions in new and exciting ways, experience challenges (cranky roommates, tough profs), and thrilling levels of liberty. You may meet your future spouse, and will certainly make deep, lifelong friends.
Wherever you end up next fall, take the advice of Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, and Lean In. Do not wonder if you should be somewhere else, or if you really belong where you are, or otherwise second-guess your college choice (even if that choice is not to go to college!). Lean in and dig deep into the experience.
A wise Jesuit High senior (ok, so it was my son) once said to me, as we were strolling a gorgeous campus on yet another college visit, “You know, Dad, I could be happy at any of these places. Colleges are little worlds created exclusively for 18- to 24-year-olds, with just the right mix of social stuff, academics, and activities. I am just gonna pick one that feels right, and that we can afford, jump in and see how it goes.”
Someday, you will look back and see a coherent story, as if your life were being planned on a grand, celestial level (that is because it is!). I hope you will see Jesuit as a formative time when you learned that God loves you and that you are on the right path.
So relish every minute of your last weeks with your high school friends, then get ready to lean in to the next steps on your journey.
Juniors, please see through the nonsense notion that it is worth sacrificing your health, sleep, friends, family, faith, or integrity in pursuit of getting just the “right” college bumpersticker on the back of your folks’ car.
The articles below help put into perspective the college scramble.
Start with this classic New York Times piece by David Brooks.
Then read about Harvard’s Caring Commons Project (start on page 7 of the Executive Summary).
Finally, read this article from the Washington Post.
on Thursday April 28