Engaged without worry

It would be easy, particularly for a new reader to this blog, to get the sense that I’m encouraging kids to be less engaged with their college planning.

Don’t overschedule yourself. Get enough sleep. Stop obsessing over famous colleges. Don’t polish every perceived weakness. Your GPA and test scores don’t define you. It’s all going to be OK.

But there’s a big difference between the student who puts forth care and effort and feels good about it regardless of the outcome and the student who didn’t care enough to put in any effort at all.

There’s a big difference between “Math is not my best subject, so I’m thrilled with a B” and “I don’t try in my math class because I hate that subject.”

There’s a big difference between a student who gets excited about all the opportunities available at a non-famous college that admits most of its applicants and a student who chooses their colleges based on which have the easiest applications to complete.

It’s your future, and it deserves to be thoughtfully considered as you make both small and large choices, from how you spend your time today, to where you go to college, to what you do while you’re there.

But it’s also important to remember that your future hasn’t happened yet. It’s a constant work in progress, rarely defined or even heavily impacted by one event for a high school student. It will construct itself through the choices, learning, and experiences that add up as a sum total from your days, months, and years. If you don’t engage at all, you’ll have some ground to make up later.

If you can treat today like just one step in many, you’ll make the appropriate efforts without all the unnecessary pressure. That’s the best way to engage without worry.