Prep for college or prep for life?

Who’s developing traits that will benefit them later in life?

The student who loves math, or the student who asks for extra credit so he can get the A?

The student who volunteers at the homeless shelter because she feels fulfilled serving others, or the student who’s there to fulfill her community service requirement?

The student who makes a mistake and takes responsibility, or the student whose parents work to ensure colleges never learn of the misstep?

The student who works a summer job because she wants to earn some extra money and be independent, or the student whose parents send her to a summer program in Costa Rica so she can list it on her college applications?

The student who loves playing the trumpet with the rest of his musical friends in the jazz band, or the student who joins a particular club simply because everyone else is doing it?

The student who’s excited about the opportunities available to him in college, or the student who’s anxious that the B he got freshman year will keep him out of Duke?

The student who drives her own college process, or the student whose parent did all the college-related driving?

The student who asks questions in class because he’s curious, or the student who asks questions because participation counts toward the grade?

The student who helps the coach collect all the baseballs at the end of practice, or the student who complains relentlessly that he should be starting at third base?

The student who’s comfortable being herself, or the student who just wants to be whoever she thinks Harvard will most likely admit?

The more time you spend pursuing short-term rewards based on the judgement of other people or colleges, the more temporary any resulting benefits will be.

The best college prep is also the best life prep.