“A Key to Achieving Happy Outcomes in College Planning: Make Good Choices”

By Peter Van Buskirk

If you are a rising high school senior, close your eyes and imagine a day in the future. No more applications. No more essays. No more SATs or ACTs. No more worrying and waiting. The final choice of a college will have been made! A year from now, it will all be over except for the celebrating.

It’s a wonderful image, but you aren’t there yet! Getting there—getting to the point where you are in a position to make that choice—actually boils down to making many good choices in the coming weeks and months. Every day, you have opportunities to make choices that can have a bearing on how you live the rest of your life. And if you are about to become a high school senior—and a college applicant—the choices you make take on added importance each day.

The opportunities for decision-making are everywhere. For example, what courses have you chosen to take during your senior year? Will they challenge you to learn and grow—or are they merely place-holders as you ease your way to graduation? How will you choose to address the daily expectations of the classroom as a senior? Will you push yourself to achieve at the highest levels—or will you be content to do that which is merely good enough?

What will you do this summer? Will you find opportunities to invest in the things you like to do, seek new adventures or look for productive engagement in the community—or will you sit back and wait for the action to come to you?

Think also about how you will engage yourself in the college application process. Will you step up, take ownership and give definition to college planning—or will you sit back and let others do it for you? Will you reach out to colleges to learn more about application requirements—or is that something that can wait until later? Will you get an early start on your essays when doing so gives you perspective and allows you the opportunity to edit critically—or will you rely on the tried and true “adrenaline rush” to throw something together at the deadline?

These are just a few examples of the many situations that are bound to arise between now and the end of the admission process. While you shouldn’t feel the need to be on top of everything, you do need to understand how the choices you make may impact the bigger picture. With that in mind, I would like to share the following with you from the “author unknown” chronicles:

Be careful of your thoughts, because your thoughts will become your words.
Be careful of your words, because your words will become your deeds.
Be careful of your deeds, because your deeds will become your habits.
Be careful of your habits, because your habits will become your character.
Be careful of your character, because your character will become your destiny.

The thoughts, words and deeds of the coming months will indeed continue to shape your character and define your destiny as you apply to college and in your life beyond. Choose them well.

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