I recently came across a student who is trying to get into a certain local university. He had to retake the SAT and improve his score by 30 points in order to be admitted. This young man took SAT courses in order to improve. I let him know that he should find everyone at the university who is a professor, dean, admissions, students, whatever in the field he wanted to get into and email them his story of why he wants to go to the school. The school is a 15 minute ride on the subway from his home as well. I suggested going to the school every chance he had to sit in on classes, meet with professors, and understand who they are and why he would fit into this university.
When the second attempt on his SAT came through, it didn’t end well. He did not score in the range to be admitted. I asked him what is next? He told me he was going to take the ACT instead an see if he could do better on that one. I then asked this young man if he emailed or visited professors, deans, etc. He gave me some lame excuse about how hard it was to find them.
I took out my laptop, did a quick search, and found 7 names of people in the school that are involved in his major in less than 2 minutes. I turned my screen around to show him and said you don’t want it bad enough. I told him to take down the website address I was showing him and said contact each one of these people in person and in email to explain why you should be in their school. I told him he would not get an answer for the first three to five emails and not to give up. I told him to get face to face with these people and have a business card ready to hand them with his contact information on it. I told him all of this might not work and if he REALLY wanted to go to this school so bad, he would do all these things. Then I told him my help on this ends here. Take it or leave it. It was up to him to follow through.
This is an important part of teaching our youth to be self advocates. This young man will need to actually work harder and follow through in order to make a name for himself. Everyone needs to do that if they want something bad enough. In order for your kids to do that, they will need to learn it. That process requires them to fail at it. As a parent, I talk my kids through these situations often. When they don’t follow up with something, I let them know by showing or telling them the opportunities missed and or lost. This is actually the easy part as I hear parents talking about how "lazy" their kids are often. Your kids are used to the negatives that come from their lack of effort.
When they actually do follow up and the results are good, I explain to them how they won. It is important to let them know why their follow up was essential to their brief success. It should be a celebration. Your kids need to see the successes and understand them in order to repeat them. This is where most parents miss out on. They just go with the flow that their kids are never going to follow up and the kids start to believe it. If you want to disrupt education for your kids, you will need to work harder as well. You will need to follow up on their efforts and show them BOTH the losses and more importantly the wins. You can’t make your kids follow through, however, you can help them understand why it is important to.