Last night was Senior Talk, an annual event at our school when seniors reflect on their high school experience and give advice to younger students and anxious parents.
(Ironically, although much of the imparted wisdom was directed at juniors, there was not one in attendance – they were all at home studying. Brown’16 was mildly interested at first, but wanted to leave after thirty minutes because he had just come from baseball practice and was disappointed that there were no snacks.)
The panel, eight articulate kids who have just completed the college application process, will soon be attending an impressive range of schools -Wesleyan, NYU, Tufts, Northwestern, Duke, Lewis & Clark, Stanford and Tulane.
Surprisingly, the panel’s suggestions proved to be a combination of Buddhist philosophy and advice my grandmother gave me:
1. Enjoy your senior year.
2. Become friends with your teachers.
3. Take advantage of your free periods to get your homework done.
4. Take Physiology, even if you suck at science.
5. There isn’t just one right college; you can be happy in many places.
6. Sign up to do things that you love, rather than activities which you think you will look good on your resume.
7. Read a lot – not Spark notes, but real books.
8. Be a good person.
9. Live in the moment.
10. Get enough sleep (Honest – I actually witnessed teens earnestly advising other teens to get enough sleep.)
What made these seniors so wise and rational? Not the presence of their college counselors – they’ve already hit them up for recommendations. According to the Neurotic Parent Institute, this was a classic example of PATM – Post-AcceptanceTemporary Maturity, a phenomenon which occurs during the four months between the arrival of the first fat envelope and matriculation into college. This is the only period in their lives when teenagers seem sane and capable of doling out conventional wisdom.
But mark my words – As soon as they get to college, no more PATM. By the end of the summer, these grounded zen-like kids will be reading Spark notes, pulling all nighters and living in the future once again.