​College Planning for High School Sophomores

Date published: March 23rd, 2017 | By Matthew

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Good story yesterday on Here & Now (National Public Radio).

The guest, Lisa Micelo, is the director of college counseling at the University of Illinois Laboratory High School in Urbana, Illinois.

The story was about college planning tips for tenth graders. What caught my attention was how little she spoke about academics.

Here she is on curiosity:

The high school experience is a four-year journey. It's time to actually start thinking about what are the things you maybe want to explore more deeply, and start thinking about your natural curiosities.

On self-discovery:

They have to start journaling their thoughts about who they are as a person. I always tell students, “Don't grab a college list guide and start naming colleges off. You have to know who you are before you build that list.”

On a balanced summer:

I like to use the phrase, “Reclaim your joy”, because I think what happens is, in the busy, busy school year, and lots of kids will actually say, “Boy, I haven't read a book for enjoyment for nine months because I'm so busy with school work.” So what we try to help students and parents understand is, you can actually frame out a nice summer that actually thinks about your intellectual needs, your social needs, also your need for downtime and fun. It's so important to be balanced.

On independence:

I'll tell you some tips we give parents that often shock them. We tell them, “One, stop doing your kid's laundry.” And they look at us like, “What does that have to do with early college planning?” And we basically say, “Okay, we're going to channel Julie Lythcott-Haims who wrote this awesome book called How to Raise an Adult: ‘put independence in your kid's way’, because by the time we work with them on college apps and how to get ready for an interview, they'll know how to manage steps in this process without your hand-holding.”

On the art of small talk:

The second tip we tell parents is, “Throw more dinner parties,” and again they look shocked. ... What we're saying is, “Put more adults at the table that your children don't know so that they learn how to engage in the art of small talk.” Because a lot of this process, Jeremy, especially the interview, is not prepping for an interview and sound like you've been, you know, marketing questions to actually say to an interviewer, it's the art of small talk: how do you have a conversation with someone you don't know; that you can walk into the room and feel confident.

Right on.