Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Would You Recommend Yourself?

I'm working on a reference form for a student who'll be enrolling in college next year. One of the sections instructs me to do this:

Rate the applicant's potential for success:
   -should be discouraged from going to college
   -below average
   -above average

I have to admit, I'm struggling with the question a little bit. Not because of the qualifications of the applicant, but because of the nature of the question itself. What is success? How does the college define success? Who am I to determine whether or not a 17 year old kid has the capacity to achieve what someone else defines as success?

Partially, I'm just bristling a little bit because I've had to fill out other reference forms from another college that are identical to this one. Not 'closely related', not 'asking similar questions', but boiler-plate identical in their wording. Which makes me wonder how much thought is put into the potential freshman information gathering process.

But more than that, I wonder what damage has been done to young people who grew up hearing 'average' applied to their potential... Can you really say, at 17 years old, what someone's potential is? Maybe it's the idealist in me, but I want to say, "limitless". I want to say, "Stop pigeonholing people into the shells you've constructed and let them hatch." I want to say, "Teach them how to put their lives in God's hands and watch Him crush the limits everyone else seems to put on their potential!"

Then I remember that I was just filling out a college reference form that will get glanced at, filed, forgotten, then thrown out in 20 years when the secretary decides it's time to purge... and maybe I'm taking something a little too seriously. Or maybe... just maybe, I really do believe that anything's possible.
If you had to write a reference form for your 17 year old self, what would it say?

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