It’s graduation time and definitely the most rewarding time of year in my practice! This year, I’m attending a college graduation of a former client. Attending his graduation from college is particularly meaningful because he was in my first class of high school seniors. During the graduation dinner with his family, his mother recalled when they first hired me to work with him. I had spoken with his parents about his college list. (Keep in mind that this student had already spent a great deal of time thinking about where he wanted to apply to college.)
I thought his list was solid but wanted him to consider adding another East Coast university to his list. I knew that my student really wanted to remain in California as did his parents. At least by this time in our relationship, the student was open to my suggestion. Here’s some background on my thinking for adding Princeton to his list:
Case Study in Point!
The student attended a large public high school in California. His GPA was strongest in the 10th and 11th grade, with a couple of lower grades during 9th grade. The fact that his grades trended up for the remainder of high school still showed favorably. SAT scores were strong. What was truly remarkable about this student though was that he had started his technology business at age 13 and it was still going strong. As an entrepreneur myself, I marveled at his courage and stick-to-itiveness. He wanted to continue his entrepreneurial pursuits after college. The selective colleges on his list that would offer a strong program/exposure to entrepreneurship were Babson, University of Pennsylvania, and Stanford.
I suggested that this student add Princeton to his list. Princeton isn’t necessarily known for entrepreneurship. However, these qualities about their undergraduate program were still a good fit for this particular student:
- Princeton has a strong community. I felt that if this student would be attending college so far away from home, the community of students would be very important. College, after all, should feel like your home away from home. Even moreso when that college home is 2,926 miles away!
- Princeton offers a liberal arts education. Although my student was considering computer science or engineering, based on his technology interests, Princeton offers a range of classes for exploring interests that may be undiscovered. Part of the exciting transformation that happens in college is discovering an interest or passion that had been hidden in high school.
- Princeton emphasizes independent work in the junior and senior years. This independent work culminates in a senior thesis.
These three qualities match well with those necessary for entrepreneurs, namely networking skills, open-mindedness, and independence. The experiences that can be garnered through the four years of college would bring those other sustainable qualities to bear.
The Rest of the Story
With attending the graduation ceremony, my relationship with this family came full circle. I was excited to be part of such a joyous occasion and beamed with pride as my student accepted his AB degree in History from Princeton University. While he still has plans to pursue his entrepreneurial interests in the next few years, he will be working in New York City, learning about a completely different industry but building a network and skills that will last a lifetime.