Many kids and parents (at least in some parts of the world) are obsessed with getting into the “right” college—or any college—believing that having a college degree will determine the kids’ future success. But while getting into (and hopefully out the other end of) college still has its importance, there’s now a lot more to success in life in the future than college.
What all parents and kids need to realize is that it is far more important is that all kids be able to answer these three questions:
What problems in the world do I care about?
What strengths do I have that will help me address those problems?
What do I love to do?
Knowing the answers to those questions—different, perhaps, at any point in a student’s (or person’s) life—empowers people to do the things that will enable them to succeed—and to not waste time doing things that won’t. If people do go to college, knowing the answers to those questions enables them to get a lot more out of it than if they are still searching for those answers. In fact, it may even make sense to delay college until these answers are figured out.
Knowing the answers to those questions allows a person to devote all of their efforts in directions that matter, to them and to the world—which is the real recipe for success in life. Socrates and Plato preached “Know thyself.” Shakespeare’s advice, via Polonius was “to thine own self be true.” Sir Ken Robinson calls it finding “The Element.” Pretty much nothing is more important in life.
And yet we do an incredibly poor job of helping our young people figure this out. It’s an area where we have much work to do. But we can begin by asking all our kids the questions, and helping them think about and find their answers,