Several years ago, Denise, a mother from Old Lyme, Connecticut, relayed some troubling news about some of her son’s friends who had graduated from Lyme-Old Lyme High School. Three had dropped out of college and while each might go back she thought they were heading down the wrong path as their dominant way of earning income was “selling weed.” “It’s hard to believe that my son’s friends – these seemingly nice, good kids from good families – have become one of the town’s suppliers.
I knew Denise’s son well as I had worked with him individually for college counseling and SAT prep. The other boys had been part of a larger SAT class and while I did not know them as well I was still surprised and saddened to hear of their current situation.
I do recall that when I asked at least one of them about his college plans that he shrugged and said something like: “I don’t know. I’ll just go some place and have fun.” He wasn’t being flippant. That was his genuine view. And, I guess he did for three semesters before he was not invited back. I’m not sure why the other two dropped out but tales of being uninspired and directionless usually are part of the story.
As for Denise’s son, we met for college counseling and he, too, had fallen within the normal teen boy sense of only focusing on the here and now. He had not given much thought to the future. But Denise kindly noted that our sessions seemed to turn on the lights for him.
In part, I tell my young clients that they are about to engage in one of life’s major turning points: moving away from home. This is true both historically and in the present. That’s the big deal in relation to going to college. Moving away to the right environment – one that fits, one that inspires, one that nurtures – leads to young adults finding direction and then figuring out how to launch into real world.
Those who move into environments that don’t fit usually wind up directionless and, all too often these days, to leaving college. There most discover that the work world is not kind to those who lack marketable skills or credentials.
College counseling helps ensure that teens get off to the right start. And that makes all the difference.