Thursday, October 20, 2011

Reflections on My Daughter's College Experience

My daughter made the transition from high school to college about 2 months ago.  Already, she's matured emotionally, intellectually, and physically, becoming an independent adult.

When I reflect on my own college experience, it was not the math, science and engineering coursework that was transformative, but instead was the people I met and the independency I had to master.

In my case, I developed mentoring relationships with several professors and researchers.  I learned to shop for meals and cook for myself.  I learned how to become an advocate for my own projects and priorities.   I evolved from introverted geek to a convener of peers.

My daughter is going through the same transformation.   After two months, she's developed mentoring relationships with the Tufts faculty who are experts in Japanese language and culture.   She's advocating for a special educational experience during winter break in Japan.   She's been elected to the boards of the Tufts Japanese Culture Club and the Anime Club, making numerous friends and building relationships along the way.   She's cut her hair, replaced her glasses, and replaced her high school clothes with a look that gives her adult credibility.

Importantly, she's done this by herself - accepting all triumphs and setbacks as the consequence of her own actions.     She sets her own goals, a pace for meeting them, and the criteria for success.   Her internal motivation is responsible for getting up in the morning, triaging her activities, and defining the future.

To me, only a small portion of college is about grades and coursework.   After all, Steve Jobs and Bill Gates both dropped out.  Peter Thiel (founder of PayPal) will even pay the best and brightest to leave college and found companies to accelerate their life experience.

College is about building a desire for lifelong learning, becoming an advocate for yourself, and understanding the possibilities that life offers (both careers and relationships).

I'm extremely proud of her progress thus far.

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