long-haired freaky people need not apply

A week from today, Kristina will begin her senior year of high school.  It is almost a redundant year for her – she finished 11th grade needing only two credits to graduate.  However, the stress of taking those two courses at the local college last summer was not worth it for her to graduate early.

Looking back on the year she had, I’m more grateful than I can say that she is not leaving for college this week.  It would have been tough – and no fun – for her to add college apps and The Decision to all she had on her plate last year.

Plus? Yay!  I have another year with my girl.  I hope she spends it in better health so she can leave for college next year strong and ready.

Where will she go to college? Good question.  We don’t know yet.

But we have some very good ideas.

Kristina – as is her way – has been thinking about this since her freshman year of high school.

“I don’t know what I want to study.  I don’t know what I want to DO with my life,” she wailed as she walked in the door.

“Uh… you are in 9th grade,” we answered.  “You are not supposed to know yet.”

“But my friends know.  Other people KNOW.”

Okay. Time to break it down:

  1. Most people do not know.  Growing, and taking courses, and meeting people, and trying things (summer jobs, camp, etc.) are how you get to know.
  2. Of the people who think they know, many – if not most –  will change their minds.
  3. Even if you did know, you are likely to do/have more than one career, so learn all you can and try lots of different things when you have the opportunity to do so.

These points made sense and she calmed down a little.

After she wrote the PLAN (pre-ACT) in the fall of 10th grade, an avalanche of college-interest letters, brochures, maps, and magazines tumbled into – and out of – our mailbox.

Kristina learned several valuable things:

  • what a variety of colleges there are, all over the country – including many she had never heard of
  • colleges are already working on attracting and recruiting her, so they must see something of interest in her
  • looking at admissions charts of scores and transcripts, she realised that she would get into a good college (and could stop stressing about whether she would get in)

That was a big step.

The information from the colleges showed her a wealth of study options she had not considered, and helped narrow the field to her interests and strengths.

Knowing where she did not want to go – and why – helped her tune into where she does want to go.  It’s likely there won’t be any Ivy League schools on her short list.  She won’t have them there just to say she did.

The important thing for Kristina – or any college-bound student – is to find the right fit for her.

Next step: college visits.


  • What a nice slice of perspective for a young person, that the choice doesn´t need to be immediate or permanent! I remember the first day of my first-year kinesiology intro course the instructor asked who wanted to be an athletic trainer (5 people) and who wanted to be a doctor (85% of the class). Then he said while this year could always be different, he gave the statistics about how many people typically complete the course, how many people fail, and how many people get a B or lower (all things that would make it difficult to get into a medical school). Then he encouraged us to use the course to look at allied health professions, biomed research, and industrial design. Unfortunately coming out of high school most people have a very sesame street view of occupations: teacher, doctor, firefighter, letter carrier, and garbage-inhabiting grouch. I bet a lot of people who like their jobs never knew their jobs existed until many years after they left high school.

  • Great points the professor shared with you! Sometimes the key is to widen the perspective before narrowing it down.

    I like the Sesame Street analogy. Kristina has often been told that the job she has when she graduates college – or when she turns 30 or 40 or whatever – probably doesn’t exist yet. While this may be more true in tech industries, it really can apply anywhere.

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