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Eye on Education: Is College in Your Future?

Crime drama teaches useful life lessons to high school seniors.

As a family, we enjoy our chance to relax on the couch together and watch our favorite television shows. Lately we have been getting useful life lessons from some of our favorites.

This has been especially true the past few weeks on "Castle." We have watched as Castle’s daughter Alexis struggles with her plans to attend college, and not just any college, but Stanford. In one episode Alexis picks out classes for her first semester at Stanford. She talks about graduating high school early, joining her boyfriend, and taking classes together. This in itself was a conversation starter between Alexis and her father.

It is not a good idea to pick a school and classes as a way to follow a friend. The school and subjects studied need to fit your individual goals and not your social life. There is comfort in thinking you will have a friend with you when you arrive at a new school. But the next four years are about moving toward your future and need to be selected based on your own personal strengths, interests and long term goals.

Fast forward to the next episode, when Alexis gets her letter from Stanford only to find out she did not get in. Alexis is devastated. “I bought t-shirts and picked out my classes,” she says. Later, she sadly remarks that her whole life was about getting into college. Now what should she do?

What a great lesson! Not getting into one college on the first attempt doesn’t mean Alexis, or any student, isn’t ready for college. It means she needs to apply somewhere else and try again.

Students should always apply to more than one school. Every college has its own set of rules related to what they look for in an applicant. And every applicant is competing with thousands of other students who may appear on paper to be just like them. There are no guarantees a student will be accepted. The best way to increase your odds is to apply to several colleges, preferably with different acceptance requirements.

Rejection letters, as seen in the Castle episode, can be a huge blow to one’s self-esteem. As explained later in the show, failure is not in the rejection letter, but in giving up your college dreams because of the rejection letter. Is Alexis’ life really over because she didn’t get into Stanford? Absolutely not. She hit a roadblock, but it was one that is relatively easy to navigate around. For Alexis, her goal was to go to Stanford. She needs to refocus and realize that the goal was college and not specifically Stanford, and research and apply to other schools.

Moving forward following rejection is hard to do, but students need to keep on applying and not give up on college. There are thousands of colleges in the United States alone. Sometimes it takes a lot of effort to find the right one and convince the admissions office that you are the perfect candidate.

Hidden in the midst of this crime drama was a good lesson for high school students. Pick the best school for your interests and goals. Apply to more than one college. Don’t let a rejection letter end your college experience before it even starts.

The college application process can be time consuming, stressful and tough on one’s self esteem. But taken step by step and with rational thinking, all students can end up where they want to be. It may not always be their first choice, but by not giving up the dream, college can be your future.


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