“It’s on you!” was the message from the university dean to the incoming freshman students attending orientation for the fall semester on this weekend 19 months ago. After the dean’s speech I went up to the dean, shook his hand, and told him, “Your speech is exactly what my daughter needed to hear.” The dean and his wife both gave me sincere thanks for my comment. I realized later that this message was something I needed to hear as much as my kid. I left the orientation thinking that we had made the right choice for her college.
I do not think that all of the responsibility falls on the kid in high school but it would be good to start driving this message home at the Academy as a part of a student’s educational experience. Some high school’ers are mature enough to begin to recognize their responsibility to develop themselves, but this level of maturity applies to a minority of high school students. The problem is that a significant number of high school kids get side-tracked or detoured before they can conceive of their potential and this may happen more often in high school than at any other stage of life – many high seniors are already damaged goods by graduation day. Some of this may have to do with family environment and/or lack of emotional support, and some of this may be caused to a lesser extent by the institutional environment.
“It’s on you!” is probably not motivational when it comes from a parent. But, when this message comes from a respected figure outside the family, this challenge may have a significant impact on the future of young adults. I think that while my parents, of course, had a tremendous impact on my personal character and perhaps receptivity to be motivated, they had little impact on my adult and professional development. This development was most impacted by other mentors in my life many of whom were teachers – but not only teachers. Read the rest of this entry »