A FIT TO BE MADE NOT A TROPHY TO BE HAD by Stacey Hester, Director of Guidance

The recent unfolding of scandalous conduct on the college admissions front is saddening. It
is not entirely shocking, however. Americans place enormous weight and value on the “admit decision” to the right college. But what if that prestigious college is in fact the wrong college for a student? Parents and students routinely consult national ratings or departmental reputations which, of course, have a proper place. Other shoppers filter colleges through the lens of perceived prestige, which can prove detrimental to a student’s overall success and satisfaction in college.

At New Covenant we take this to heart, encouraging the “right fit” over “honor/shame.” After all, a college choice is a fit to be made, not a trophy to be had.

Parents should be assured that the process for helping New Covenant students determine their next steps is well underway in their eighth grade year. It is more visible and intensely felt during junior year when college visits and in-house College Coffeehouses expose students to the ins and outs of colleges admissions. This is an intentional process with the goal of nurturing students in accordance with their respective stages of development and interests. Dr. Denise Pope, education professor and co-founder of Challenge Success, proposes a common-sense approach to the college search and experience. In her recent Wall Street Journal article, The Right Way to Choose a College* she encourages students to investigate institutional offerings – internships, mentorships, long-term projects, and interest groups on campus – and then engage in these offerings. Not surprisingly, students who engage in healthy interests are happier and report higher rates of overall satisfaction and success than those who strive for more arbitrary, ill-chosen goals like status.

Admissions decisions are a moving target and contingent on several factors that are particular to each school and often opaque. Students who focus on these factors have statistically been shown to be disappointed. On the other hand, students who are able to identify their strengths, interests, and proclivities and employ them, gain a sense of what it is they want to do with their lives.

At New Covenant we remind students that man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. The youngest students at New Covenant know this catechism by heart. They can recite
it, and some can even explain its application. When absorbed, this truth is freeing, allowing us to explore His world without fear as it transcends college campuses and occupations.

Our seniors are in the latter stage of the college decision process. By May 1, most of them will have signed the dotted line with their respective institutions. It’s a big step. As we think of them, let’s pray that they will go forth with joy as they engage the world and continue to discover God’s good plan for their lives.

*This article is available in our library should you want to read more.