- College Prep
Disney movies hold a special place in my heart. Perhaps it’s the nostalgia of watching them as a kid or maybe it’s the fact that my daughters love snuggling up and watching a movie with me on a rainy day. Those moments are precious to me and until they are ready to watch The Walking Dead or The Office… Disney movies will be great!
During a recent trip to the movie theatre with my daughters to see Frozen II, I was surprised by how much it related to what I do at Perkiomen School - College Counseling.
Initially while standing in line I was met with uncertainty:
- Is this sequel going to be like most sequels and disappoint? (In my opinion, it lived up to the hype.)
- Are my daughters going to like the movie?
- Are they going to be scared like when I took them to see Incredibles 2? (Don’t get me started.)
- Should go for more popcorn and less candy?
- Am I the only grown man standing in line to see Frozen II? (Eventually another dad showed up and we gave each other a look and nod that we were in this together.
These are the types of feelings that many of my students have when thinking about college. There is uncertainty about the college process because it is often clouded with myths, varied emotions, questions around finances, and our natural tendency to compare ourselves with those around us.
My students ask:
- “Am I going to find a school?”
- “Is anyone going to accept me?”
- “Will I be able to afford college?”
- “What if I don’t know what I want to major in?”
- “Am I going to let down my parents?”
We all face insecurities about how we fit in. We are tribal in nature. We want to fit in. We want to go with the flow (although that may seem crazy when we’re talking about teenagers, it’s true). Going through the college process can seem stressful because our students do need to put themselves out there. They need to risk becoming their best.
- “I don’t know how to write about myself.”
- “What if I say something wrong?”
- “What will people think if I apply to this school or don’t apply to that school?”
Insecurity is present because students may feel that they are being judged in this process and measured by an acceptance letter, waitlist notification, or denial. While we as College Counselors explain that these are not indicative of your worth, but rather a fit at that particular school, it can still sting for students.
So now my daughters and I are sitting in the theatre, I’m aggressively racing to finish my ridiculously large bucket of popcorn, and we’re trying to learn the songs and sing along before the scene ends. Towards the end of the movie I thought, “Wow! Disney screen writers really understand the college process!” (I had finished my popcorn very early in the movie so I was fully focused on the plot and trying to learn the songs.)
And then I realized, Frozen II plagiarized… me.
If you haven’t seen the movie… go see it. I’ll wait…
. . .
Now that you’ve seen it, you’ll understand what I’m talking about. In the movie, Anna sings a song titled, The Next Right Thing. Anna is feeling overwhelmed and is paralyzed in her decision making. For those of you that cheated and didn’t see the movie yet, I will keep this vague so as to not spoil it.
The piano begins… cue the song! Anna is about to realize the answer on her own. The lyrics begin, “I’ve seen the dark before, but not like this…” My students do not normally sing in my office, but they echo the same idea when thinking about looking for a college:
- “I’ve applied for things before, but not college.”
- “I’ve written lots of papers, but not a college essay!”
Anna continues, “But a tiny voice whispers in my mind, You are lost, hope is gone, but you must go on.” Yes, our students are resilient. They have the tremendous support of their teachers, parents, friends and the entire community. They still feel this.
Here’s the key: Anna finishes the line with, “… and do the next right thing.” This is when I started really nodding my head (in addition to tapping my foot because the song is pretty catchy). I was nodding my head because this is what I ask my students:
“What do you need to do next?”
Defining what you must do next creates certainty, provides clarity, and enables students and families to confidently navigate this process.
There are many things that go into the college process and initially it can look almost overwhelming, but just ask “what do I need to do next?” If you know the answer to this question, you will never stop moving forward. There is a lot that goes into the college search and application process, but you can’t tackle all of them at once. I will never forget being a senior in high school, overwhelmed and crying in my headmaster’s wife’s office, exclaiming, “I’m lost and I don’t know what to do!” She looked at me and simply, calmly asked, “What do you need to do next?” Take care of what is next and only what is next in the process.
You’ll be happier through this process because you’ll be able to manage it by addressing one issue at a time. Learn from Anna and tackle that one by one. If you’re applying to college, yes, it is a big decision, but you are ready and you can handle it.
If you feel overwhelmed, pull up the clip, listen, and believe in it because as Anna ends the song:
When it's clear that everything will never be the same again
Then I'll make the choice to hear that voice
And do the next right thing.
Enjoy finding what’s next for you. If you need some motivation, check out Frozen II. It is now streaming on Disney+. If you need some direction or have questions, please contact your College Counselor. We are here to help.
By Keegan Ash, Associate Director of College Counseling, Perkiomen School
Keegan serves on the Finance and Budget Committee for the Pennsylvania Association for College Admission Counseling (PACAC). A graduate of Dickinson College and Drexel University, Mr. Ash started at Perkiomen in 2010. In that time he has taught math, Economics, history, ESL, TLC and currently teaches in the Entrepreneur Institute. He has coached football, basketball and strength & conditioning. When Mr. Ash is not wearing one of his many hats at Perkiomen, he can be found relaxing at home with his daughters, probably watching a classic Disney movie.
I’m so proud to work with a college counseling office focused on the goal of helping students to find the right-fit college after Perkiomen. We find success when we know that our students are going to the colleges and universities that will ensure that they continue to risk becoming their best.Keegan Ash