Ayaan Gupta. (Photo courtesy of Gupta)
In the Seattle area, the competitiveness of universities is heating up. As the region’s population growth of high-paid tech workers continues, one unintended consequence is increased competitiveness in college admissions. The influx of technical workers has led to an increasing demand for STEM majors in college.
Parents are looking for every possible advantage when it comes to best positioning their child for success during college applications. Some families prepare their students for high school as early as high school by taking them to advanced math classes, hiring private counselors, and meticulously determining which extracurricular activities to take to have the best chance of getting into the coveted Ivy League schools.
However, this motivation can often be influenced by misinformed parents with first-time students applying to the US college admissions system.
Under all the hype and competition for college admission, the underlying reason for high school’s existence seems to be disappearing. High school would be a time when students learn not only theoretical concepts but also practical skills that prepare them for success in the future.
There is little evidence that attending top universities will lead to guaranteed success. Parents in the region need look no further than their own peers to realize that, in the end, the graduating institution matters little. Most importantly, a student’s ability to create their own opportunities and explore their interests in high school, college, and beyond.
For over a year, I’ve been leading a startup, Cledge, to democratize college tutoring and increase access to personalized information. The goal is to better educate families about the college admissions process and put life outside of college in perspective.
I’ve talked to many parents and students about the university application process and answered hundreds of questions. Parents constantly ask me, “What extracurricular activities can my child do to increase his chances of being admitted?”
While this is a valid thought, I strongly believe that this puts too much emphasis on the outcome of college admission as compared to the essential classes that should happen in high school. I have come across too many students who are currently participating in activities for the sole purpose of increasing their chances of getting into university.
“I have encountered too many students who are currently participating in activities for the sole purpose of increasing their chances of getting into college.”
The US Department of Labor has stated that “65% of today’s students will be employed in jobs yet to be invented.”
The start of the pandemic is a good example of how quickly situations can change. During this time, many students were unable to participate in traditional extracurricular activities. However, students who were well equipped with the skills needed to adapt, innovate and lead were able to build their own opportunities within the new constraints to not only stand out, but also change. to stimulate. I have found that these students often received general guidance, not formal guidance, which better prepared them to manage their own experiences. Excessive focus on the end goal of college acceptance discourages students from exploring interests and building essential skills to be successful changemakers in their future careers.
Unfortunately, the formula-like approach to college admissions is gaining a lot of attention in the area. Many students are overwhelmed with the responsibility and pressure to prepare for college admission from 9th grade. The reality is that much of this pressure is unnecessary because there is no formula to guarantee admission.
This hyper-competition leads to extreme levels of stress among students and peers in high schools, often extinguishing the classic high school experience loved by most across the country into one dominated by 18-hour days. It’s not uncommon for students to sleep past midnight, as high school strikes a balance between extracurricular and college courses, leaving little room for relaxation or self-examination.
It is probably inevitable that competition will continue to pick up locally. However, with this increased competition comes a great responsibility for families to determine for themselves which path to future success they want their student to take.
Admission to a top 20 school is not the only way to be successful, but rather is one of many opportunities students can pursue. In fact, Big Tech has invested millions of dollars locally to revamp computer science programs at other local college options. Most recently, Amazon will invest $3 million in three different local tech and community colleges that offer four-year programs focused on computer science. It’s yet another example of how local businesses are reinvesting in the community to find the brightest talented individuals – realizing that not all top talent comes from nameless schools.
In recent years, the definition of success for families in the Pacific Northwest has become closely tied to college prestige. However, this success statistic is misplaced. Just as students are taught for years of their lives that their success is measured by a single number — GPA — families are now under the impression that success after high school can only be measured by college prestige.
However, just as it has been proven that GPA is not the only measure of success, neither is university prestige the only factor. This is not to say that hard work is wrong, but rather should be a part of how success is achieved.
It’s important to have conversations within your family about what success really means, unaffected by what colleges or others want you to think. Success can be job fulfillment, a path to financial stability, or even focusing on the learning process and its impact rather than just the grade associated with it.
Defining these metrics ahead of time allows your students to focus on what they value rather than what society wants them to value. Doing this will help your student maintain a fulfilling healthy lifestyle where they are passionate about their education and journey, while building their own version of success.
This post Parents: Don’t Let Your Child’s Admission Process Ruin Your Child’s High School Experience
was original published at “https://www.geekwire.com/2022/parents-dont-let-the-college-admissions-process-ruin-your-childs-high-school-experience/”