The college crossroads: Yes, this really is a big deal

By College Counseling

“The Learning Consultants has been so successful because Daryl accurately describes why students should care about school.”  So said a mom from Daniel Hand High School when introducing me to another parent from Madison, CT.

I liked the way she phrased the comment.

My focus has always been on inspiring students.  And, I suppose my own views on authority shaped my way of communicating.

My mom’s reason for many of her commands never sat well with me: “Because I said so.”

Indeed she was raised in British schools where the mantra- : “Yours is not to question why.  Yours is but to do and die” was someone transferred from British generals to British nuns who taught my mom.  She, in turn, attempted to convey that philosophy to me.

It did not work.  I was not naturally compliant.  I would do as asked to avoid punishment or to get reward but not simply because I was told to do something.

As for school, I saw the rewards.  Indeed, my mom had a wonderful retort when I was trying to get out of trouble for something that had nothing to do with school and I argued: “But I get As in school.” Her response: “you did that for you because you are selfishly ambitious.  Don’t act like you are doing that for me”. The truth of the statement shut me up.  I did well in school because I knew it served me.

I explain my reasons to students – a natural drive to be “successful” – but I also shift the discussion to whatever their core motivations might be:

And, I explain why college is a big deal.

You are moving away from home.  You only do that once. That’s a big deal.

You will be living in a distinctly new environment and environments vary greatly from one another.  That’s a big deal.

You will be meeting an entirely new set of people.  The type of people vary from college to college.  That’s a big deal.

I go through all the reasons that have nothing to do with “success” and the students realize: “this is a big deal for ME.”

That makes all the difference.