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Self Reflection, the First Step

Winter. A time of the year to slow down, a time to self reflect. College. Where/how do you begin? Keeping in the spirit of winter as a time for reflection, here are some essential tips to guide you and your student through this journey.
Key to your commitment to this process is dialogue with your student. Help them to identify what is important to them, teach them how to self-reflect.

Ask them questions, what are their goals, their hopes and dreams for their future? Clearly communicating their values and goals will serve them well. Tell them to be specific, in due time your student will be writing self-reflective essays as part of his or her application process. Encourage them to think of skills they need to develop (e.g. time management skills, teamwork skills, flexibility).

As you begin your dialogue ask them what they like or dislike about their high school experience (e.g. students, faculty, curriculum, culture). Sometimes students can tell you more about what they don’t like, then what they do! Both have value.

Talk with your student about their strengths. Areas of excellence and achievement can be a catalyst to identifying schools. Together share your thoughts about what makes your student unique. In the process you may learn something new about what they think of themselves.
Encourage them to identify the extracurricular activities and interests they consider important to them. (e.g. athletics, theater, community service, clubs.). The more your student understands themselves and who they are, the more clear become their college choices. In addition, colleges are also looking for students who will continue to ‘be involved” in their educational community!

Some additional questions to ask are what type of academic environment appeals to your student? Is it a small liberal arts college, a state university, or a two year college?

What teaching methods do they prefer? Would they only be happy in a small class, with lots of discussion, or a bigger lecture based presentation?

What type of social environment do they want? Is Greek Life important to them? Are an active student government or student activities key ingredients? All of these questions are meant to get your student thinking about what’s important to them in their social environment.

The act of self-reflection is the significant “first step” in the college planning process. Understanding your likes/dislikes, how you interact with others, and knowing your best learning environment will help in discovering a college best suited to your personality, learning style and goals.

Steve Michaud owner, of Family Pathways College Counseling, is a practicing independent college counselor in Bozeman MT. Steve has extensive experience with families from coast to coast helping them to navigate post secondary options.

Contact Steve: or call 406-570-1178