What kinds of transformative experiences has your student been able to realize?
IN CHAPTER 3, we explored ways to set your child’s sparks on fire through unique paths of transformation. Now we move forward, exploring the specific types of unique experiences that help our students develop into formidable admissions candidates.
As we discussed before, high schools across the country segregate kids into types: the math kids, the science kids, the jocks, the popular ones, and the squares. The purpose of this chapter is to help you and your child realize that regardless of whatever labels peers or teachers might want to apply to your student, this is his/her time to pursue their deepest drive. This is their time to define a sense of purpose and the vision of the life they want to live.
Over the past two decades, we’ve found that the following six types of experience offer students extraordinary opportunities for growth and are excellent ways to further define passions and skills:
• University programs
• Personalized employment
• Competitions and scholarships
• Personalized international experiences
• Publishing and performance
Transformative Experience: university programs
Participation in a summer program at a university has many benefits. First, it can show experience to committed learning away from parents, offering students a chance to learn under highly-regarded professors and observe the atmosphere of collegiate life. It can also prepare them for development outside the familiar world of their hometown and school. Moreover, most universities offer higher-level programs that can both expose a student to collegiate-level instruction or shore up weak spots in one’s GPA. Most major universities offer such programs, many of them with merit-based scholarships.
Jenny from Manhattan, New York
Sparks: Writing Skills, persistence
Building Fire: University program
When we met Jenny, she was a sophomore and an aspiring poet. With this in mind, we urged her to submit her work to various summer programs, and she won entrance into the prestigious University of Iowa’s Young Writer’s Workshop, where she spent the next summer developing her work under published authors.
With their guidance, she returned home with a polished portfolio that she was able to submit to multiple competitions. The following school year, she continued her development as a writer, traveling cross-country to deliver poetry readings in Ithaca, NY and at Hugo House in Seattle. That spring, she was awarded a National Scholastic Award for creative writing. The subsequent year, with these credits, she gained admission to the highly-regarded English programs at Cornell and Sarah Lawrence as a result of her work.
Discovered Brand: Published Author
Transformative Experience: employment
Getting a good job in an area of strong interest is a great way to develop skills, confidence, and a sense of purpose. What you don’t want is for your child to settle for random jobs. Time is ticking, and the skills that she doesn’t develop today will have to wait until tomorrow. The job that puts students on a path to self-discovery and development will propel them that much further in life, expanding horizons and creating excitement about the future.
Bill from Honolulu, Hawaii
Sparks: Positivity, leadership Building
Fire: Unique employment
Bill began volunteering at a local YMCA in 9th grade, and by his junior year, he had become a student athletic director, organizing leagues and teaching kids in after-school programs the rules of basketball and indoor soccer. During this time, one of the kids, Jack, caught his attention because of the hard time he had following directions. After contacting the family, Bill learned that the boy suffered from an acute case of autism.
While working with Bill on his college development, we advised him to research autism, and Bill got in touch with learning disability experts to find out ways to help Jack. Over time, he became a coach and mentor to Jack and other children who had learning challenges. The result was that his college essays revealed a high degree of maturity and compassion, and won him admission and merit award offers into Haverford, Whitman, and Lewis and Clark.
Discovered Identity: Community Leader, Mentor
Thank you for reading our blog!
Next time – more transformative experience stories about students – stay tuned!