College is The Time to Experiment

As parents, we all know that high school and college is a time of experimentation and we tend to shudder at the thought of our children testing boundaries and taking risks. Within the 14-22 age group, we tend to look at experiments as a negative process and outcome.

The definition of experiment is: a scientific procedure undertaken to make a discovery, test a hypothesis, or demonstrate a known fact.

What if we openly discuss the idea of experiments with our children and how strategically and consciously (rather than impulsively) conducting a series of them can lead to discovering a new passion, confirm a decision or path, or lead to enhanced self-awareness?

College is the best time to test the waters as it relates to joining clubs, service organizations, or sports teams.  It’s not about resume building, but the opportunity to meet new people, learn about an industry, or provide the framework to make a dream come true like traveling to Africa or living in a foreign country.

A great example is a good friend’s daughter who has water-skied almost since she could walk. Her time on the lake served as great exercise, a stress reliever, and provided precious time with her family.  At the University of Texas, she saw a boat in the middle of campus promoting the water ski team. She put herself out there, made the team, and reaped all the benefits she had felt before—plus gained a new group of friends.

The next year, she checked off a bucket list item and studied in South Africa. She fell in love with the country and its people, and this year as a college senior, was hired as an Ambassador for the company to promote their tours.  Her passion became a paying job for a year!

Let’s ask our children what experiments they have planned. If they say none, brainstorm together.  Hopefully the next time you inquire, they get excited when asked and elaborate on their newfound friends and skills.

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