David Graves      June 7th, 2024 in Blog

When I was six weeks old, my mother passed away due to complications from a blood clot. Several years later my family grew, mirroring the 70’s sitcom of the Brady Bunch, with two widowed parents with three children each finding love and marrying each other. During that gap of time though, my two older sisters decided they needed to look out for me as best they could. For the first four years of my life (or so I am told), I rarely spoke, as my sisters took it upon themselves to answer any questions that came my way. You name it, they answered it. “Are you hungry?”, “Do you want to play cards?”, “What book do you want to read?”, all taken care of by my loving sisters. Life must have been pretty good for me as child, as all I had to do was sit back and everything would be taken care of for me. But what is good for a four-year-old is not always what is best for my later years. Sadly, there was no Dead Poets Society moment where my – year-old self stood on my desk, boldly declared my independence and requested milk, not apple juice. Instead, I slowly starting speaking for myself and making my own choices in life as I grew up. Looking back, I have great appreciation for what my sisters did for me, but I also know that a big step in my life was learning how to be my own advocate.

In the same way, as teenagers start making the shift from high school to college, they need to develop their skills in becoming their own advocate. Whether it’s making a college list, visiting a college to tour campus, or speaking with an admissions representative, students need to take the lead in the process, while the parents need to step into the background. Parents, I know this is hard, as I faced this issue head on when my two kids applied to college. How could I, a life-long admissions person, sit back and keep quiet on an admissions tour? It will be difficult, but I know you can do it, especially if it will ultimately benefit your student. I remember being very impressed when a parent told me that for their college visits, they had the student make all of the plans, whether it was scheduling tours, finding the hotels/restaurants, driving and locating parking for every visit, etc. The more that the student is invested in their own college search process, the better off they will be ultimately. And when it comes to applying and communicating with the admissions offices, the student needs to be the driver of the process as well. As I have said many times before, we are fine to talk to parents about admissions, but we would prefer to talk with the student, as they will be the ones who will be a part of our community.

So future college students, I challenge you to become your own best advocate, to lead the charge in your college search, and maybe watch the Dead Poets Society. In the end, it will work out best for you and it will prepare you for the next stages in your life.

Go Dawgs!

Tags: ,