BY THE END OF THIS ARTICLE…..
….. You’ll understand why the core question you need to ask yourself is “Is my child emotionally and mentally ready for college?” NOT “Does my kid have the aptitude for college?”
As physician Louis Profeta says, “The former question is infinitely more important to consider than the latter.”
Who has the most realistic perspective on whether your high school student or the typical high school student is truly ready for college…..?
…..Parents? But parents for the most part don’t think of college right after high school as a decision as much as much as part of a Developmental Ritual. Isn’t college part of trying to live the American Dream?
……Students? But students often feel such an immense amount of pressure to immediately go to college that they don’t even truly consider other options, such as a gap year, or a year of working, or…?
The problem is college is NOT a de facto summer camp, and is NOT a surrogate parent. It is NOT a place to grow up. It is a place where one takes classes based on THE ASSUMPTION that the teenager has a pre-existing deep-seated knowledge about themselves. But do they?
How about an Emergency Room doctor who has worked with hundreds of college students who found themselves in the worst of situations? Like Loius Profeta, MD, who became an author, public speaker, and is also a father and husband. He recently wrote an intriguing article entitled “A Very Dangerous Place for a Child is College.”
WARNING: There are some curse words in this article, and this article uses some frank language.
This is not to say there are no parents or students who have enough maturity and insight to send their child to college ready enough to succeed at college.
But the fact of the matter is, there are reliable statistics indicating that a very large grouping of high school graduates are not truly ready for what I call the College Bus Station (CBS).
I wrote about the college bus station in a recent blog. Because college students on average change their major six times during college, one of the greatest problems is students do not know themselves enough to go into college with a clear plan of how to precisely choose classes that build on themselves in order to provide a ramp toward a career and a job or graduate program after college graduation.
As Profeta writes about in his article, freshman college students often make the biggest mistakes because their newfound freedom does not come with an elevated sense of maturity or responsibility simply because they are biologically a-year-older.
There are many religions in the world that have a ritual of having high school age students take a year or two to ground themselves, determine what their values are in a very serious manner, and rub up against the real world in a way that being in school does not offer.
Attending high school or college classes full-time does not aggressively force the student to rub up against the reality of the working world.
After having worked with over 1000 children and adolescents over the last 15 years, I’m increasingly of the opinion that for a very large grouping of high school students, their best option would be to take a Gap Year to do the following:
— Truly figure out what they are meant to do if they have not already, by engaging in a truly comprehensive vocational/career guidance process that turns them inside out. See my process here. Too many high school students go through superficial career guidance processes, and that is why most college students end up changing majors approximately SIX times.
— Work in the real world and come to understand JUST HOW LUCKY THEY WOULD BE IF THEY DID GO ON TO COLLEGE.
— Experience a world where they have much less protection than they have ever had previously, especially parental protection.
— Aggressively rub up against the realities of the mundaneness of working in a lower level job, the day in and day out, how hard it is to earn money, how difficult it can be to work for a supervisor, not just the teacher. While earning a bad grade can be difficult, being reprimanded in the real world can take on a much more difficult to swallow sourness.
This experience can help the post-high school graduate appreciate any further learning opportunity much more richly than they may have if they went from their high school bubble directly to their college campus party bubble. In many ways the bloated nature of colleges provides students with an extension of the bubble-like experience they have living at home with their parents, where everything is paid for.
Before you get focused on sending your child off to the college you can brag the most about, take a look at the statistics, and ask yourself whether you should consider a gap year for your child before they go to college.
While the idea of a Gap Year can be hard to swallow, it may be the pill your child needs to swallow so that when they go to college they don’t end up in the Emergency Room!!!