The Responsibility of Choice

This spring, like every spring, after years of struggle, high school seniors will finally experience acceptance in the form of an electronic letter or alert in an applicant portal offering admissions to this or that college. Once the initial elation fades, families begin deliberations in earnest to make a final selection by the May 1 national college enrollment deadline.*

Essentially, in their decision making, parents and students are seeking to assess the value of one college experience over another to avoid college malinvestment, where students graduate with debts, both financial as well as regrets, misaligned with potential careers and too often underemployed. 

To ascertain value in a college experience, students must first understand their inherent aptitude—the earlier discovered, the better.  Upon entry into college, with a defined vision serving as a guide, students are more likely to identify mentors and have experiences in order to test and deepen their confidence in an innate ability

However, students and parents may be “wowed” by the cache of a college’s reputation, believing that legitimacy (and economic prosperity) is automatically bestowed through credentialing. In such biased decision making, families can skew toward the most “elite” acceptance, less considerate if a student’s aptitude aligns with such a reputable institution, risking malinvestment in college.

Also, parents and students alike often believe that acceptance into college also requires a commitment to a specific major and by default a career for which there can be no escape—an arranged marriage that to dissolve would only shame the family. Nevermind that most parents, if candidly reflecting on their own lives, rebelled against their parents when confronted by the impossibility of determining at seventeen a career from which there can be no way out. 

In such complex negotiations, I recommend families have the most frank conversations possible. Parents can share their wisdom earned through the hard knocks of experience yet may need to confront bias given their own realized and unrealized dreams, while students contribute their idealism born of youthful exuberance

With candor and a confidence in their aptitude, students can assert their reasons for choosing one college over another, as well as articulate their vision in life. Parents, often seeking reassurance, like any investor, in their outlay of capital can equally gain confidence their children will join the college community where they’ll most likely grow toward economic prosperity, but without costing them their peace of mind

*Note: in the time of COVID-disrupted higher education, the enrollment date may vary or be extended.

For more information about how Creative Marbles experts can help students and parents reduce the risks of malinvestment in college, contact us at Creative Marbles Consultancy

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About Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

Jill Yoshikawa, EdM, Harvard ’99, a seasoned, 25 year educator and consultant, is meticulous in helping clients navigate all aspects of the educational experience, no matter the level of complexity. She combines educational theory with experience to advise families, schools and educators. A UCSD and Harvard graduate, as well as a former high school teacher, Jill works tirelessly to help her clients succeed.
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