Summer College Checklist #1: Design Your Guiding Goals

If you've ever joined a Teen LAUNCH event, chances are that you've heard us mention the importance of students setting their Guiding Goals.

It's the first step in making sure the transition from high school to college (and later, from college to the "real world") lines up smoothly.

We like to think about the Guiding Goals in three overlapping areas: Academic (which will evolve into Professional goals), Social, and Personal Goals.


Our suggestion is that you encourage your student to focus on something they are good at (i.e., a strength), as well as something they need to improve, in each of the three areas to help determine a meaningful goal.

Forming these goals now (and then updating them every so often) will guide a student's decision-making process — with everything from the colleges they apply to, to the college essay topics they write about, to the courses they eventually choose to take.

Then, what is your student's vision for the future? What does that vision look like in 10 years? Any thoughts or images that come up are useful. What kind of work are they doing? What kind of environment are they working in? What sort of lifestyle do they lead at home? Are they married? Do they have kids? Are they still playing guitar on nights and weekends? Etc.

Work backward from there: what do they need to have accomplished in 5 years, right after college graduation, in order to stay on track for reaching those 10-year goals?

Question for you: What is something your student is already good at that they can build upon in college? How might that fit into the life they want to lead in their late 20's?

Here are some example goals from one of our past students:

Professional/Academic Area:
Strength: Creative and driven
Concern: Loses interest without hands-on/practical work
GOAL FOR COLLEGE: Work in a interdisciplinary program where hands-on learning is available (music production studio)

Social Area:
Strength: Makes deep one-on-one friendships
Concern: Small talk / meeting new people can be awkward
GOAL FOR COLLEGE: Connect with a broad community of people through creative collaboration

Personal Area:
Strength: Curious and open to new experiences
Concern: Becomes "stuck" without new cultural experiences
GOAL FOR COLLEGE: Live in an area where there are many cultural influences and new experiences available

We hope this is a useful primer to the Summer College Checklist! We're here to help your student feel motivated and supported as they gear up for college application season and senior year.

If you're looking for personal support with college applications, check out our summer intensive workshop Carve Your Own Path, and don't hesitate to reach out to us with questions!

See you back on the blog next week for some tips on building out the college list!