We tried something new in our Irvine office this senior season–we brought in a gong. The idea was that kids would bang the gong loudly and proudly on the day they submitted their final college application. We wanted to show families yet another way to celebrate the process, not just the admissions outcomes. To be honest, we didn't know if kids would take to it or if they wouldn't exactly share our gonging enthusiasm.
But it's exceeded all of our expectations.
At least a couple times a day, the gong rings out–LOUDLY–in our office to the delight of a proud college applicant. You can see the wide grins and sense of accomplishment on their faces. The counselors all applaud and offer our congratulations. But the best part has been the parents–who smartly stepped back and turned this process over to their student and their Collegewise counselor, returning for this meeting, cameras in hand, to capture their kids' gonging celebrations. A few moms have even joined their kids for their own photos in front of the gong.
For those parents who can't make it, we take a picture and email home the photo on a certificate entitled, "There's a college applicant in your house!" Kids have uploaded their gonging pictures to their Facebook pages and announced that they're officially done with college applications.
The gong has proven to be more than just a silly tradition. It's a big, loud acknowledgement of a job well done and a teenager taking one step closer to starting college. A lot of these kids haven't been admitted anywhere yet. But that's no reason not to celebrate this important step. It reminds kids and parents that no matter which colleges say "Yes," they still have every reason to be proud. And it's given our counselors their own sense of celebration for helping each student reach application completion.
So, what's your gong?
Students, are you reserving your celebration for when decisions arrive this spring, or are you celebrating the completion of your college applications in some way?
Parents, are you letting your kids know how proud you are of their application efforts, and that your pride is not contingent on an offer of admission from a particular college?
And counselors, are you not only finding reasons to celebrate your students' achievements, but also your role in helping them find their futures?
We can all learn a lot from the gong.