How do we prepare our children for the next stage of their lives? Many young adults are off to Israel, others continuing to learn and still others are coming back and starting college. We all daven that it all works out. But as we do, doing our hishtadlus is just as important. The path of life is so vast, so wide and so winding. Here are some myths to be wary about.
Myth #1 - I already know what I want to study in college. I don’t need to do any further exploration.
Example: Rena decided to study psychology in a college she could complete quickly. She was not exposed to anything in high school that she was passionate about. She thought this was a good option for now. Then she worked with a career specialist and completed an assessment which showed she had structural abilities. When Rena did some research on what she could do with them, she discovered that she had always felt a deep-seated interest in architecture and design. She ended up choosing a college where she could explore psychology, but also take courses in architecture and industrial design as well.
The point: By finding out about her abilities, she opened herself up to more possibilities.
Myth #2 - I have no clue about what I want to study in college, I’ll wait until I get there to figure that out.
Fact: Most educational programs cannot know what you are passionate about, what has meaning for you. Only you can know that. Working with a career coach and taking the Highlands Ability Battery can help students come up with 1-3 reasonable options. If a student goes to college with these options at hand, he will have sufficient focus to choose courses, majors, and summer internships that will actively allow him to take the ball down the field.
The point: Many students spend years taking courses and avoiding the decision. Having no focus is just as bad as having a focus that is prematurely narrow.
Myth #3 - My parents, teachers, and college counselor can guide me through this college selection process.
Example: Dov’s father thought he should be a dentist. Jacob was a good
student. Dentistry would be a well-paying, professional career with
some stability, status and prestige. There was only one problem. He
didn’t know it at the time, but Dov’s strongest abilities were not in science
or spatial relations, two very important aspects of dentistry. He had other very real abilities, but not those. Because Dov was a responsible, hard-working young man, he listened to his father and enrolled in chemistry. He made good grades, but he was miserably unhappy. In his junior year, frustrated and lost, he left the program.
The point: Advice is fine - but it helps only when the student has done the basic work of finding out about himself.
Myth #4 - It’s too early to think about life after college.
Example: Adam went to college with three thoughts about what he might want to do: be a journalist, be a lawyer, or go into politics (as a speech-writer). These may be related, but each is a distinct and broad category. All three were also related to Adam’s strongest natural abilities. In college, he took courses and got internships in all three fields. By the end of college, he decided on law, pursued law school and became a lawyer. Of his group of six or seven high school friends, he was the only one who graduated college on time.
The point: When students go to college with two or three clear ideas or career goals, they can significantly increase their chances of 1) enjoying college, and 2) being successful in and after college.
Myth #5 - It’s all up to my SAT/ACT score and GPA
Example: Sarah scored well on all the standardized tests. She got very good grades in high school and went to a good college program. She then went on to work as a financial analyst. She was successful in her role, but miserable. She began to hate getting up in the morning. When she met with a career coach and took the Highlands Ability Battery, she realized why she was having such difficulty. Her strongest abilities were abilities that analysts never utilize. She was relatively weak in abilities that finance professionals need to use all the time. Because she was intelligent and hard-driving, she had overcome these obstacles. But she had come to hate it.
The point: Before going off to college and beginning to make decisions that are going to affect you the rest of your life – find out what your natural talents and abilities are. You’ll be much happier that way.
Help your children get on the right path and invest in understanding themselves, their strengths, interests and goals before they commit to an education path that is not suited for them. If they are happy in their day job, they will be better parents, wives/husbands and they will create a home filled with warmth, energy and positivity. That is what we all daven for.