Today is November 1. It is a date that looms large for high school seniors around the country engaged in the college application process. As essays, applications, test scores, and resumes have dominated our seniors’ lives over the past few weeks, our goal has been to guide them through the process, support them, and, perhaps most importantly, help students realize that their legacy at Proctor is so much more than the name next to a college acceptance letter.
THIS blog post published around this time of year in 2018 talks about Proctor as a life prep school, not just a college prep school. Our seniors are feeling extraordinary pressure right now (not necessarily from those of us at Proctor, but from external societal forces) to have their lives figured out. They want a flawless resume so they can get into the most competitive colleges, and, in turn, follow that mythical linear professional journey that will yield some preconceived notion of “success”. What they really need at this point in their lives is the freedom to explore, to be a kid, to enjoy high school and embrace the learning experiences they have before them.
More than 95% of Proctor graduates go on to study at a four year college, a handful after a gap year. Proctor’s educational model does a phenomenal job of preparing students for higher education, but the impact horizon of a Proctor experience extends well beyond college preparation to the efficacy with which our graduates positively impact their communities. We must all embrace this long-term growth mindset as we help students (and families) combat widespread societal messaging that a singular outcome (college acceptances) have a direct correlation to the value of an adolescent who is just beginning their life’s journey.
Social Science Department Chair Geoff Sahs’ message to the community during assembly reinforced this need for a shift in messaging. Geoff talked about the notion of legacy, and our individual legacies that we leave as we interact with different people over the course of our lives. “You all right now are creating a legacy - for Proctor, for yourself, for future generations. The things we do, the interactions we have, the people we influence, that is our legacy - the way we shape, effect, improve the people around us is our legacy. Your legacy is not tied to a singular outcome, but is tied to the person you become and grow into over time. Hopefully it is a never ending process. It is really important that this one moment is a hurdle, and it feels like a really big hurdle, it is not the only hurdle, but you will continue to grow and be awesome no matter what. So, Seniors, get some rest, keep doing your work, and know that it is a good road ahead, and it will be fun.”
Proctor will probably never win the college matriculation "game" as measured by the rankings of colleges and universities Proctor graduates attend because that is not our goal for our students. Instead, our goal is to help students find a post-Proctor path that will maximize their potential. It is about finding the right fit. It is about developing students who have the confidence to immerse themselves in something they love, and then share that passion with others in an effort to make the world a better place. Now if we can just get the rest of society and the entire higher education industry to think like we do.