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Interiority, By Chaim Heller, Head of School

Chaim Heller BlogInteriority

At the recent NAIS conference, four university presidents participated in a panel discussion about trends in college admissions. While they each stressed the importance of being well-prepared academically for post-high school studies, they also made some points that I wanted to share.

Fact 1. Students have a 40% drop out rate in college.

Fact 2. There are an overwhelming number of kids who medicate or “self-medicate” to address anxiety, with the numbers estimated between 25-35% of all college students.

Why is this happening? Twenty and 30 years ago, college freshmen had greater “interiority” than they do today. They could make choices, had a stronger sense of self, and were more self-aware and better able to navigate the social demands of college. An on-site college student may have 25% of his/her time in class and studying for exams, papers, etc. They have not been prepared for the remaining 75% of their day.

What can parents do? According to the university presidents: Our kids need to learn to organize their own social world and to make decisions. They need to learn to be self-advocates. Our parents over-schedule them from an early age. Kids need more choices at home and more independence at high school. Many parents push their kids to build their resume for colleges. The university presidents felt it is far better for your child to spend time in one organization that they care about for a long time, than to work on an inflated CV for college.

What can schools do? The presidents all agreed that a lot of this is on the shoulders of parents and not even the best preparatory schools can help them as much as their parents can. What the best schools can do is to help our students manage the world of differing communities. Provide them with internships and opportunities to fit in with people that are not like them. Teach the kids to ask the tough questions on their own behalf and to be assertive in their roles as self-advocates. Lastly, the best schools work closely with the parents in the spirit of partnership and move away from an environment in which parents feel that they need to be advocates for their kids. Let the kids advocate for themselves. It’s an important part of growing up.

Food for thought…

Shabbat shalom,

Chaim Heller, Head of School

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