Over the past few months, prospective families have navigated the admissions process at a number of independent schools. While each stage of the admissions process sparks important questions, the most difficult decision for each prospective student occurs during these last days before we ask families to submit contracts for the 2019-2020 school year.
A financial and emotional investment of this magnitude, and the subsequent weight the process places on our families, is not overlooked by our Admissions Team. Our hope is every family’s journey through the application process at Proctor is filled with the same type of guidance and support we seek to provide our students once they enroll.
A steady stream of these final decisions have flowed into our Admissions Team over the past week. Lots of “yeses”, our share of “thank you for your time, but we chose X school insteads”, and a handful of “can we have a little more time to make our decisions”. It is a rollercoaster ride of emotions for our Admissions team; one that reminds us of the tough decisions we must make each day, and how we can best support our students as they wrestle with the daily decisions they have to make in their own lives.
We each make more than 35,000 decisions a day. That’s more than 2,000 a waking hour, or roughly two per second. The vast majority of these decisions are fleeting thoughts - should I pick up my phone to check notifications? - or simply part of our routine - what time should I set my alarm this morning? But others require significantly more bandwidth due to their social implications. What should I wear today? Should I speak up when I see someone breaking the rules or keep my mouth shut? Each of us manages these varying levels of decisions differently, and yet their collective weight in our lives, and our kids’ lives, is real.
Despite what they would have you to think, adolescents desperately want adults to be engaged in their lives. They notice the example we set for them. When we are anxious and stressed out, their anxiety matches ours. When we are able to take time out of our day to practice mindfulness and self-care, they notice. When we spend time asking them questions and truly listening to their responses, they notice. When we are there as a support as they make the toughest of their 35,000 decisions each day, they notice.
We talk often about the double-edged sword of the sheer number of offerings at boarding school and its impact on our pace of life. We have a responsibility to teach our students (and ourselves) strategies to navigate the unintended-but-very-real stresses that accompany rapid-speed decision making. Carving out space for intentional mindfulness, through meditation, prayer, reading, hiking in Proctor’s woodlands, exercise, or spending time diving into our art prove invaluable to our collective well-being.
Someone left small notes of appreciation across campus today. I’m not sure who - the handwriting looks like a student’s - and it makes it that much nicer this person/group of people desired to be anonymous. These little notes, no more than a sentence or two, left an oversized impact on our community today as so many of us were reminded our hard work is noticed and appreciated. Thank you to whomever chose to use one of his/her 35,000 decisions to embark on this project and fundamentally change hundreds of people’s days.
As we anxiously await real spring weather to arrive, may we all model this intentionality with the decisions we make and encourage those around us to make decisions with confidence, following their heart and not worrying about how the rest of us will react.