In my spare time, which I'm finding less and less of these days, I like to volunteer whenever possible. Whether it's a soup kitchen, pro bono management consulting, or something education related like alumni volunteering at admission events or anything in the K12 arena really, I take a lot of pleasure in finding ways to give back to my immediate and surrounding community.
The other day I had a really fantastic experience holding mock interview sessions for high school juniors. I sat at a table and every 10 or so minutes a new student would come introduce themselves and I'd start..."tell me about yourself." I wasn't disappointed a single time.
From the student whose family moved here from another country when he was in third grade and lacks confidence in his [really superb] English; to the cosmetology student who isn't only taking courses in high school and a local college, but spending her weekends networking with makeup artists in New York; or the self-identified dyslexic guy who not only owned the learning disorder but also went into great detail into how he works so diligently to overcome it each day--I simply sat there in awe.
I listened as students talked about their strengths and weaknesses, opening their vulnerabilities up to a complete stranger--something that's hard to do as an adult, let alone a high school student. I saw passion in the eyes of the student who talked about the feeling of accomplishment he gained from replacing a side panel on a car; felt the love from a student far beyond his years when he talked about how he wasn't currently working because he was helping his family watch his younger siblings so his parents could work; and saw the ambition in each student expressing their dreams for the future, whether those entailed heading directly into the workforce, moving away to college, or joining the military. The dreams were all different--the passion the same.
I follow a ton of threads, groups, pages, and communities dedicated to college admission, both the profession itself and the students who make the profession, well, a profession. There have been plenty of times where I've seen counselors (both school and admission) who are completely jaded when it comes to today's students. As someone who doesn't work in the industry, I guess it's easy for me to say that I just can't see how that's possible. But based on my recent experience, I can say the quickest way to tear out of that slump is simply to ask a student to..."tell me about yourself."
I can't wait to do it again.