Forget about the Ivy League – preparing your kid for life past college acceptance

It’s graduation season! Which means it’s time for 22-year-olds across the world to walk across a temporary stage in their mortarboards and awkwardly large robes as their parents and siblings cheer them on for their accomplishments.

Maybe your kids aren't there yet, but I’d bet you've been dreaming of this moment for years. You've reached the point where you can look at the rest of your family and your partner and finally say, "We did it! Our little Susie has finally graduated from college."

While the accomplishments of this moment are to be reveled in for sure, I'm willing to bet that Susie is feeling a little bit of anxiety. She's probably struggling with questions like:

·      "What will I do next?"

·       "Should I go to law school, get a PhD, or work?"

·       "Is this office job actually right for me?"

·       "I wish I could find a job that I was passionate about." 

I get Susie's anxiety. I was just in the same place when I graduated college a few years ago….confused and questioning the point of going to college at all. What had I really gained from my four years that would help me during the rest of my life?

In today’s global society, we live by a great myth: do well in school, get into a good university, graduate, find a good job, work for 50 years, retire. This is how we are supposed to live our lives. 

Along the way, you’re rarely asked what your goals are for yourself as a human being or how to you want to create a purpose-driven life. 

The new generation of young people is often confusing to Gen X parents. They tend to seek meaning, purpose, and flow states over traditional ideas of success, luxury, and money. However our school systems don't help kids cultivate these critical human needs.

Not enough people ever ask:

·       What makes you tick?

·       What lights you up?

·       How can you actually (in a real way) create a more positive and just world?  

As an alumna of a rigorous college-prep school, I can say that I want school to be about more than just preparing "career and college readiness." Education is a means to a more meaningful, fulfilled life. And it's time that we started taking it that seriously, as if life depended on it.

At Armada, we center our educational and professional practices on these essential questions. I'd like to share with you a few of our ideas and methods for helping to prepare kids for life beyond college. 

  1. Start with the End in Mind
    With adults, there's an exercise you can do where you imagine your own funeral and then picture what kind of things your spouse, children, friends, and colleagues will say about you when you've passed. This is a little dark and far away for kids so have your little one imagine that they are 25 years old and somebody is throwing a party for him. At this party,  his parents [you] and his friends have decided to give a speech about your kid. What would you kid want other people to say about him and his accomplishments at this time in his life? 
  2. Set those Goals
    Use the information from the start with the end in mind exercise to help create long term goals for your kids. Goals can range from "be happy" to "live in Antarctica and study penguins." The important thing is to write down 3-7 goals that will remind your kids what they really want in life (beyond I want to go to Stanford for college). 
  3. Passion Plan
    There's this weird problem that kids feel like they need to complete school and THEN they'll finally be free to get to their real goals for themselves. I've recently been trying this method known as passion planning that allows me to see where I want to go in 1 year, 3 years, and my lifetime, break those down into concrete, actionable steps that you incorporate into your daily life. It's similar to the methods we use with Felix with his learning wall.

I hope these tips help you out. I know ever since I've adopted these methods into my life, I feel happy, balanced, and self-disciplined because I can take daily actions to be the person who I truly want to be. Try out our tips and let us know in the comments below how it has worked for you and your family.

Keep passionately planning,

Kassandra