“I figure what’s the worst that can happen. I’ll come back here and live in a big house by the water.” said Liam a completely honest junior from Guilford High School. This was a decade ago. I had pressed Liam about the obvious: did his family situation dull his motivation? Liam’s response was surprising only in that he said out loud what a reasonable number of teens from affluent families think to themselves.
Fairfield County is among the wealthiest regions in the world. That’s not an exaggeration. I recall an old movie describing Darien, Connecticut as the richest town, in the richest county, in the richest state in the richest country in the world. Those facts likely need to be amended a bit but the point remains. Fairfield County, Connecticut is the land of the affluent.
The Shoreline Connecticut region encompassing Branford, Guilford, Madison, Clinton, Westbrook, Old Saybrook, Old Lyme, Essex, East Lyme, Waterford, Groton, Mystic, and Stonington is not quite Fairfield in terms of wealth – few places are! – but it, too, has pockets of affluence that lead to motivational deflators for a certain type of teen.
Our college counseling work – while directly focused on college admission – has an underlying message: motivate yourself to reach the most of your potential. With our teens that come from a certain level of wealth, we have to get into their heads to ensure the message works intangibly (purpose, meaning, satisfaction) as well as tangibly (a means to worldly success)
I wrote this article that expands on the issue.