During this season of high school graduation for our daughter, I got a message from a friend that made me pause. “I extend my condolences for your daughter going to Ohio State.” What? You are sorry that my kid had an amazing high school career and persevered through the worst collective senior year in history and got accepted into a top-notch Big 10 school? Of course this person didn’t mean that literally (I hope!), but it made me stop to think about how much societal pressure there is to “follow in the footsteps” of others.
My husband and I learned a great deal during the college admissions process over the past year which was SO different than what we experienced several “pre-internet” decades ago. The right college choice for us in the 80s was irrelevant for our child who was able to research and evaluate dozens of college options that were applicable to the major she wants to pursue. Following our footsteps was not a top criterion for a college search, nor should it be.
Rather, the footsteps we hope she follows are those of engagement in her college experience, a commitment to serving her community and an overall appreciation of how hard work makes a difference in this world. Raising a young adult with a caring spirit and bias for action far outranks having the same-looking diploma on the wall. This truly is a season of joy seeing her spread her wings and get ready to fly.
There are many aspects of life where one chooses a path, and it is my hope we encourage and assist our chidren, friends and associates but don’t dictate the road to follow. Here’s hoping members of the Class of 2021 blaze forward and become known in the history books for their perseverance and determination. May their footprints be full of joy as they run full-speed ahead into their futures.