Below is a letter I sent to two of my college-coaching students who are sisters, who decided they wanted to attend college outside of the United States.
Hi Eva and Lily,
I am thrilled to learn that the both of you will be attending the College of Saint Andrews this fall. You have made a decision that will influence your life in ways that you cannot imagine even now. But I’ll give you a hint as to how. Right here.
By attending college outside of the country can be viewed as a metaphor for thinking “outside the box.” People who do such thinking discover horizons in their future that others cannot see, or are simply unwilling to leave open the possibilities that’s there’s a window through which greater possibilities can be seen. It’s their comfort zone that forces them to remain where they are, and we’ve heard time and again that real growth for any of us is to live outside our comfort zones – to see, hear, feel, and taste things we never knew existed.
Put another way, staying close to home as a new college student is like a new ship staying in harbor. But a ship isn’t built for the purpose of staying in harbor. Its purpose is to ride the sometimes stormy seas where adventure, excitement, and the discovery of new worlds exist. And your growth will be the expansion of those horizons that started you on your life voyage with your decision to step outside your comfort zones.
As you live outside of your country, you will be exposed to cultures and ideas unfamiliar to you. By the time graduation comes, you will have walked through the Louvre in Paris, Westminster Abbey in London, the Sistene Chapel in Rome, not to mention coming to know individuals who grew up and lived in the environments that made these experiences real for you. In other words, you will experience and internalize realities that you would never experience at any college in the United States.
And how do you place a price-tag on those experiences? You don’t. You can’t.
You will return home in four years with a perspective that is wider and deeper than anyone else your age. You will raise the bar of expectations from future employers who will only be too happy to meet them, and the quality of the gentlemen you allow to pursue you will be of a quality to match your own. Not a bad additional benefit that will last a lifetime.
When you enter the job-interview-after-college phase of your life, it will become obvious to any future employer that you are a very special individual. And the question you will likely hear at the end of your interviews is , “When can you start?”
Your parents are to be commended for their support of your decision. Typically, parents are unintentional co-conspirators in having their children remain in their comfort zones, they simply find a convenient way to keep you close, not wanting to let go. It’s only natural. It’s so difficult for a parent to see their children leave home forever, but your parents are stepping outside their comfort zones so that you can begin to enrich yours. And it’s a sacrifice they are making that reflects one of the most difficult support-decisions I believe they have ever made. But they put you before themselves in a way that most parents cannot handle. They are pretty special, just as their daughters are.
As with all my students, it’s been an honor for me to have served you in my small way, and it’s been a thrill to have been a part of your process in applying to college.
My most sincere congratulations to you and your parents for a great and far-reaching decision.
It’s time to acknowledge the following: You’re the best.
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