Many students have a challenge getting their parents or caring advocates to understand what they want when it comes to their career/work/contribution path. Well-meaning family members and other loved ones want the aspiring students in their lives to be secure, safe and in a position to create lives that set them up for success. However, there is often a misalignment between what students want and what their loved ones want for them. This is where the essential wants and desires conversation comes in, which is actually a series of conversations. But, aspiring students need to know what their wants and desires are before they can successfully argue their case. My special guest this week is Jeremy Harp, author of the booklet, The College Preparation Process, which is the basis of our conscious conversation.
During my conversation with Jeremy Harp, he shares the challenge he had with the wants and desires conversation when he was going through his college prep process.
Jeremy founded The College Preparation Program in 2010 to help college-bound Georgia families navigate rising college debt and falling college graduation rates. He attended Banneker High School in College Park, Georgia. After graduating from Yale University, Jeremy started a career in education and developed a curriculum to address college preparation matters families find most challenging. He attained his MBA from the University of Georgia and is currently working in corporate finance.
One of the key points of our discussion is the importance of having a strong support system. Many students have this kind of structure built into their family unit, but for those who don’t it’s essential to create a network of supporters who can help you through the twists and turns along your college journey.
College is hard. Extra steps are needed to get through successfully. Don’t be afraid to ask for help; allow others to assist and support your success.
It’s also important that you get as much info as you can prior to getting started with the college prep process. Many want to skip the research process, but it’s crucial. In the long run it will save you time, effort and even money.
Some students see the end of high school as a time to relax; college will afford them time to have fun, go to parties, hang out with friends, and enjoy other social activities. This will be part of your college experience, but remember, academic performance is the reason you’re in college and making sure you’re doing your best is a priority.
Reach out to supportive peers, counselors, coaches, professors and others who understand what you want to accomplish and are willing to help. Supportive peers are important, because there are times when our peers either don’t understand or aren’t interested in supporting our goals. Sometimes those with the best intentions may not know what’s best for you. Your network needs to buy into your vision.
Create, what I like to call, your Fab 5 – five individuals who provide different kinds of support. You’ll need someone who’s well connected, someone who can refer you to great resources, someone you can have those vulnerable and honest conversations with, someone who is inspiring, etc. Decide what you need to succeed and begin assembling your support team.
Of the full-time college students who actually complete their degree, statistics suggest that well under 50% complete their four-year degree in four years. A strong percentage finish in six or more years. This means more stress, more effort, more money and in some cases, dwindling opportunities.
To finish in four you need a plan, and different financial and navigation perspectives than those who don't complete their college degrees on time.
Most students just aren’t prepared to make the transition from high school to college. It’s no wonder. School counselors, even the most skilled and caring, oftentimes are responsible for hundreds of students or more per counselor. This makes it highly unlikely to get the kind of tailored attention needed to help you prepare for this big transition – both students and parents.
It’s also not uncommon for students and their families to wait until senior year to seriously connect with a counselor. These kinds of conversations need to start during your freshman year of high school and increase as the end of your sophomore year.
Also, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that just because you did well in high school and didn’t experience any problems that you’ll do well in college and won’t need support. College is a very different and more difficult education path all together that takes lots of upfront preparation to finish on time.
When you begin seriously thinking about selecting a college, pick a school that you like, that will graduate you and that you can afford.
Many students have been conditioned to believe because of their economic status and family situation that top tier schools are out of their reach. Challenge this assumption.
Lots of colleges have programs that give prospective students a taste of what it’s like to attend. For example, there are “fly-in” programs, which provide two – three day (even several weeks) college tours for prospective students and the college may take care of the transportation, food and housing during that time.
When doing your research stay alert to these kinds of opportunities so you can take full advantage of a program like this, if it’s an available option at your school of choice.
Consider these five factors during your college prep process, as noted in The College Preparation Process on page 16:
Additionally, It’s important to look for an educational environment that allows you to blossom as a student so you can graduate on time.
List of College Culture Questions
If your parents shy away from having a wants and desires conversation with you, step up and initiate the conversation. It can be challenging if your parents are set on where they want you to go and what they want you to do, but this journey is for and about YOU. Be responsible. Be accountable. Take the initiative and create the kind of college experience you want. Obviously, taking this serious knowing that you’re building a bridge to your work of choice and your desired lifestyle.
List of College Require and Desire Questions
It’s a good idea to visit your colleges of choice, but it’s not always necessary. This all depends on the student. If you’re a student with an “I can make it work” attitude, you’ll be successful.
There are SO many factors to consider to ensure you have a great college experience. Don't rush the process. Give yourself enough of a runway for a successful takeoff. Start having these conversations early in high school. If you're a high school senior, your runway isn't as long, but these conversations are even more important!
Knowing where you can turn for encouragement and inspiration is also a very important factor. We talked about having a support network, but it's also beneficial to have something you can read, glance at or listen to when things get tough. Jeremy mentioned poetry as one of the mediums he uses to stay inspired and encouraged. Enjoy two of his favorites below!
It Couldn’t Be Done
by Edgar Albert Guest
Somebody said that it couldn’t be done
But he with a chuckle replied
That “maybe it couldn’t,” but he would be one
Who wouldn’t say so till he’d tried.
So he buckled right in with the trace of a grin
On his face. If he worried he hid it.
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it!
Somebody scoffed: “Oh, you’ll never do that;
At least no one ever has done it;”
But he took off his coat and he took off his hat
And the first thing we knew he’d begun it.
With a lift of his chin and a bit of a grin,
Without any doubting or quiddit,
He started to sing as he tackled the thing
That couldn’t be done, and he did it.
There are thousands to tell you it cannot be done,
There are thousands to prophesy failure,
There are thousands to point out to you one by one,
The dangers that wait to assail you.
But just buckle in with a bit of a grin,
Just take off your coat and go to it;
Just start in to sing as you tackle the thing
That “cannot be done,” and you’ll do it.
by Rudyard Kipling
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!
For more about Jeremy Harp and the work he does with students, visit his website @ collegeprepatlanta.org and purchase a copy of his booklet, The College Preparation Process. You can also find him on Facebook, and LinkedIn.
Also, take a peek at RobbiCrawford.com where you'll find a resource hub of freebies and paid services for students and families eager to play the college game smarter, and spend less effort, time and money along the way.
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