I recently came upon a thought provoking Ted Talk by Julie Lythcott-Haims, the former Dean of Freshmen at Stanford University. Her talk, “How to raise successful kids– without over-parenting” made me reflect on behaviors I see in undergraduate and graduate admissions, as well as my own upbringing. The video has over 2 million views at this posting, so clearly I am not alone in my interest in this subject. While I would encourage anyone of any age to watch this fifteen-minute video, here are some thoughts I had after watching.

This idea that participating in the “right” activities or getting high grades in the toughest classes guarantees a spot in the Ivy leagues, or whatever universities you see as highly valuable, is just not true. I can tell you as a former admissions counselor, there is no magic formula! But more importantly than that, selecting a school before spending the time to figure out what one wants to do, study, or pursue is illogical. Just as completing a “checklist” throughout high school does not guarantee college success (which, of course, looks different for everyone), getting high grades in college also does not guarantee a high paying job, or a fulfilling life, or a stable family. A big part of why I started this business was to teach the skill sets that I see people struggle with when it comes to high-stakes decisions like going to college or graduate school. Writing often plays a large role in reaching those next steps, and my ultimate goal is to offer habits you can take with you for future writings and decisions. It can be hard to break out of this “checklist” mindset whether you are a parent or an adult who was raised with these beliefs. My services are in tuned to facing these mindsets and helping individuals dig deeper and beyond the checklist.

Life is not a checklist, and neither are schools or fellowships. Degrees and educational opportunities are tools to help you build the life you want. So why leave such important decisions up to someone else’s checklist?

Watch the full video here.

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