The Great Thing about a Gap Year….

After being in schools for 14+ years (this includes kindergarden/ It could be longer if the pre-school schooling starts before 4 years old) it makes incredible sense to stop being in school and actually take a breather, to make sense of the world outside of school BEFORE committing to another 4 years of college. I mean, how does anyone have a clue about the realities of life and the limitlessness of thought and cultural variety unless you experience it at a more intimate level and be responsible for your own actions in that real world; independent of parents, or other figures of authority? To learn by doing, refreshing your mind by seeing and understanding the world in it’s glory and complexity – differently through new eyes  (yours or through association with others you meet on your Gap Year travels) can only be good before sinking your teeth into an intense academic study and socio-relational confluences of the liberal arts college and then of course career(s).

Success and leadership in life depend on insight, perspective, social maturity, curiosity,  resilience and so many other “soft skills”  that can be brought to bare in managing the challenges and opportunities life presents. How can one actually do this well, at a higher level, without having lived a bit independently, as a self-agent, before stepping into what should be the intellectually challenging world of college? How much more energy, excitement and intellectual purpose can be injected into the the wonders of the college experience if  the charge from a Gap Year is applied – giving education, intellectual curiosity, and the rationale for schooling a context and purpose. And the GapYear helps to imbue an individual with greater clarity of direction, helps answer the question, Why am I going to college and what does it have to do with anything that is important. If any population need too have that question answered, it is the graduation high school senior who is still in the throes of late adolescence and needs the concrete connection to be tangible and immediate.

The Gap Year is a partial counter to the pedantry and constriction of the traditional academic track. It refreshes and invigorates and more effectively prepares students to learn to manage their lives before college (than the typical school), and helps to flush the standardized silliness of our outmoded and obsolete 19th Century educational models; giving meaning and purpose and offering a chance for students to become self-directed, capable, thoughtful leaders who American society so dearly needs. A society that has become an increasingly complex, dysfunctional society; a less democratic and less courteous, less mutually-supportive culture.

Don’t be afraid of the Gap Year; embrace it and make it be one of the life-changing and formative times in your life.


Posted in Career Planning | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Student Compass Website

The Student Compass Website – The Expanded Student Compass Website link can be found in the Blogroll in the right hand column. The Website  is a fairly comprehensive  elaboration of the Student Compass philosophy, mission, programs and intentions. Because the work of The Student Compass is complex and multi-year it is quite different than other student based support services because it addresses the transitions that students are confronted with as they gradually flow into adulthood developing cognitively and emotionally from adolescents into vested adults. The general social expectation is that this happens during the 4 years of college and at the end of that post-secondary experience, out pops an adult ready and able to engage the world. Nothing can be farther from the truth, especially in the contemporary society of  todays’ America. The Student Compass is fully aware that students struggle to figure out how to manage their lives and create realistic and appropriate goals that match their tone, temperament and abilities, potential and real. That is why we mentor students. We don’t tell students what they should do, we don’t “counsel” or “guide”. But rather we  help students think about themselves, their futures, the realities of  their changing world and practice developing a plan (s) that they design for themselves so they can have a better look at what they need to do to get to their future. And so what we do is work with students on planning for their open lives, and developing greater independence and “self-agency”, taking responsibility for their futures so they can be happy, productive and capable individuals, contributing to their community, country and world.

Posted in Career Planning | 3 Comments

The Student Compass Website

Link | Posted on by | 2 Comments

Students Need Thoughtful Care and Mentored Support


I am always amazed with the general assumption that “school” will fix the problems and answer the questions for modern society. The lag between academic currency and the issues of the day are enormous. The majority of students are left stranded, knowing how to read at only an adequate level, write marginally, and perform basic math calculations. The deep learning necessary for intelligent participation in American society is just not there.

Americans assume that simply being American imbues all with what the society needs to continue to be the vibrant leader of the world in innovation, finance, arts, international political influence, democratic process, etc…

Those days are very much of the past. Parents, students, schools, business leaders, community leaders, policy makers, all need to become engaged in actively planning for a very different future. Students need guidance at a deep, thoughtful and consistent level, how to think about their future, how to plan for it based on the realities of who they are, their abilities and the future demands placed on them. They need mentors to talk to, to share ideas with, to help practice deeper thinking, and achieving balance and perspective in their lives. The rate of changes ahead will be enormous, difficult and complicated. American society needs to be actively thinking forward, and the students of this society need help to become capable and fluid in doing that.
 Schools and Colleges can’t do this well.

Students deserve more than random insight, and inferences of the academic experience. They need serious care and support to help them confront the enormous questions of their Age.

Posted in Career Planning | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Taking Time to Reflect about the Future

One of my greatest concerns are the enormous challenges the next generation (post-baby boomers) will have to confront/manage/adapt to:  that of sifting and sorting through all of the digital junk and distractions and learning how to discriminate the important from the “noise”; to make sense and manage a balance between- the allure of technology and its benefits and the seductive, addictive nature of the ‘ping” of the device.

Taking time to think and reflect, and think some more about the direction of the “great American experiment” in democracy and what it takes to make it work is essential if the future success of the “experiment” is to continue. (This means knowing and disciplining oneself to make the time to separate from the technology, which gobbles up so much of our time and inundates our minds with “stuff”) Slowing down, calming the mind, and ruminating, daydreaming, and being patient, all are becoming rarer qualities as the demands and pace of society’s expectations accelerate. But the brain needs to do this; it is how it is wired to work best – but it requires conscious intent to give it time to do what it does best, to collect, assimilate, digest, refine and frame ideas and relationships. Multi-tasking is the rock-skipping across the waves. It is cool and fun to do especially when you are good at it,  but it never actually offers the depth or thoughtful reason essential to good decision-making, particularly for long-term thinking and planning. 

Thinking about what is important beyond the immediate and present is much more difficult than ever before. Technology doesn’t help if it is used only for deflection and amusement (example – Television; once thought to be a powerful tool for learning; now virtually a tool for disappearing into fake “realities”) and not for it’s remarkable power of informing on a broad spectrum and engaging people in open discourse so vital to a vibrant democracy.

 How this unfolds and who we are – as a nation of people of good will and progressive liberal values (all articulated in the Declaration of Independence, The Bill of Rights, The Constitution,  etc.) – will hang in the balance with this generation’s management and understanding of what is important; for themselves and for their children.

We are clearly in a Transition. Time, circumstance, and fortune will tell what America will look like 10, 20, 30 years from now.

Posted in Career Planning | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Does the Future Look Like?

As a Career Planning Mentor working with high school and college students, frequently I am reminded how little of the world I understood as a student, how confusing it was trying to sort out what my place was in the ‘things of the world’, and how much I would have enjoyed having a mentor to help me think through the who I am (was) and what my future could be.  

This blog is devoted to a venting/or rather a blurbbling of the myriad aspects of what our children are confronted with, and possible paths that they can follow to get to where they need/want to be as their lives unfold. An 18 year old today can reasonably expect to be around in 2085.  What will that world look like and what will she or he have had to manage in those 72 years between now and then ??

We all want to believe that our futures can be bright, happy and full of opportunity. Our Futures – meaning not just what happens to us as individuals but also to our world and the world of the people we care for, and that of those who share the remarkable experience of our common existence. The future however is what it is, the future, mostly unknowable in any empirical sense, and in any assured outcomes.

Certainly, we in Western societies have worked hard in the past centuries, to create a civil society that reduces physical risks and offers more opportunity, and thus time to think about purpose and merit and human values of shared goals. But with this remarkable freedom has come responsibility – to assure the same freedom and liberties to our children’s and their children.  Certainly, as a child of the 60’s,  a “Woodstock” hipster,  the vision seemed bright in my world, “the golden city on the hill”- a real possibility.

But that vision has eroded during the past 40+ years. So concerned for protecting the Environment, So concerned for broadening fairness and liberty globally, So sure of a brave new world…. So sure We were……

Our children are now the inheritors of a chaos equally as difficult as what we so vocally revolted against in our day (military-industrial complex for one and political corruption and abuse of power for others), but now far more complex b/c of the infinitely more globally interwoven world – charged with factions magnified by technologies fluid angry discourse,  a dis-equilibium in the global Environment, and a dramatic shift in economic and political structures. The irony of it all is just so absurd and embarrassing.

Even with all of this, the human capacity to adapt and repair has been tested many times. Our children and their children will need thoughtful help in managing and preparing for the dramatic changes ahead. Thoughtful, cool heads, civil discourse and earnest collaboration, and an anthropologist’s eye will be essential to help repair the damage our generation has thoughtlessly wrought on the world and unleashed on our children.

For starters, the  “Me First” will have to change to “Us Together”.

Posted in Career Planning | Leave a comment

Charting a Path to your Future

Charting a Path to your Future

Image | Posted on by | 2 Comments

Students Need Thoughtful Care and Mentored Support

Students Need Thoughtful Care and Mentored Support.

Posted in Career Planning | Leave a comment