It’s time to apply for college, and you’re beyond frustrated.

You’ve probably lost more sleep worrying over your kid in the last year than during the baby years.

You see so many positive qualities in this kid. Insights that catch you by surprise. Genuine kindness when no one’s watching. When inspiration strikes, this kid works harder than a Starbucks barista on the Monday morning after the Super Bowl.

When it’s time to talk about college applications, though, fuhgeddaboudit.

Total mental check-out.

The instant you start pushing, the defenses go up. You either get stone-walled, eye-rolled, or yelled at.

You know it’s an important process for the kid to apply for college. It’s filled with major decisions that have long-term consequences. Major ones that effect you, too, for years to come.

You don’t want to give up.

What are you supposed to do?

How are you supposed to help your kid prepare, plan, and apply for college when she seems determined to bury her head in the sand?


Lazy Good-For-Nothing


I don’t believe there is such a thing as a lazy kid.

There are logical reasons for all behavior.

Whenever kids are unmotivated to take on the process of preparing for college, it is important to seek to understand the reason.

In order to feel motivated to accomplish any task, we need three key things.

We must have a clear vision of the desired end-result – let’s call this the “what.”

We must have a methodology that we are capable of performing – the “how.”

And we must have a reason we believe in for accomplishing the task – the “why.”

If one of them is missing, like the classic three-legged stool analogy, thump! Down we go.

Labeling a kid as lazy is a failure of insight.

People are not innately lazy. Whenever we know what we want, how to make it happen, and why we want it – we will take massive action.

This same child who is not taking action on college right now, surely you have seen him employ every trick in the book to move heaven and earth when he really wants something to happen.

Your kid is capable when all three legs of the stool are in place.

The trick is to become a detective and figure out which leg is missing now.


The What, How & Why of College


In families to have a standing expectation that their kids will go to college, it is often assumed that kids “get” the what, how, and why of college.

“Get good grades so you can get into a good college so you can get a good job and be happy.”

We marinate our kids in the formula, so we think they get it.

But there’s a difference between getting it as a general concept and developing a clear vision that applies specifically to our individual lives.

Whenever you see a kid who’s a juggernaut, fired up and zooming through school (not in that pretentious, brown-nosey way but genuinely delightfully driven), it’s because they have absolute clarity on the what, how and why of their college journey.

What: what do they want to study and experience that will prepare them for their career goals beyond graduation – do they have a clear vision of where college will lead them?

How: how can they get access to the information, opportunities, and experiences they seek – do they have a clear process to complete college successfully?

Why: why do they want to work toward this end – do they have a clear purpose for being in college?

Which leg (or legs) is your kid missing?


Addressing the “What” Will I Study at College 


You’ll know that a kid doesn’t have their what yet when they don’t know “what they want to be when they grow up.”

They need help exploring the possibilities, narrowing them down, and gathering information to decide which career options will

There are many free resources online to help them sort through their interests and find careers that may be good matches. One place to start is

Here at Off-Trail On Purpose, we use an assessment called the SOI to look at 26 different intellectual aptitudes. We show our clients their key strengths and show them career choices that capitalize on their key strengths.


Addressing the “How” to Apply For College


The college application process can feel extremely daunting.

Students are very well aware that it is extremely expensive to go to college. This fact alone can paralyze them. With so much on the line, they don’t want to make a mistake.

So they do nothing, hoping someone (you) will come do it for them.

To build the confidence to face the challenges that will come in life, though, they need to do this for themselves.

That doesn’t mean that they have to do it alone. In fact, kids SHOULDN’T plan for college alone.

As adults, we don’t buy $150,000 properties or invest that much in the stock market alone.

We consult experts.

Kids need consultants as they are making these decisions and actions. It shifts them from paralysis to purposeful, confident action.

At Off-Trail On Purpose, we guide our clients through a system to explore schools, write compelling essays, and submit applications. We strategize to help them have options and ideally save money.

When students have a step-by-step system, they willingly take the next step.


Addressing the “Why” to Apply For College 


Growing up is scary for everyone.

I recently gave a workshop at a college preparatory high school. I asked the students if they were excited about the future.

One boy said, “I don’t want to take on more responsibilities. It stresses me out to think about having to take care of all that stuff by myself.”

Me, too!

The “why” of growing up isn’t paying taxes.

The “why” is having the opportunity to explore all that we are, all that there is, and all we can share with others.

Kids will avoid college preparation whenever they are fixated on the down sides.

More studying. More stress. More responsibility. Loss of friends. Loss of home. Loss of childhood.

This is when they really bury their heads in the sand.

They are grieving.

They need help to see that this is an inevitable part of life. While they don’t have a choice that life will progress, they DO have a choice in how they respond.

The real why of college: to learn anything you can to make the greatest contribution you can to the world around you. So that you can feel proud of yourself.

At Off-Trail On Purpose, we help our clients find their “why.”


Every Kid Wants To Feel Proud


We all want to feel proud of ourselves. We want others to be proud of us, too.

In the end, the reason why your kid isn’t taking initiative to apply to college is because he is afraid.

He is afraid he will do something that will make it so that you aren’t proud of him.

She is afraid she isn’t good enough to get into a good enough college to feel proud of herself.

Even though less than 7% of the world’s population holds a college degree, our kids — with more educational and vocational options than anyone in human history — carry a great burden of shame.

They feel overwhelmed and inadequate.

Kids need our support to reunite them to the truth of who they truly are.

Each one is here to make miraculous contributions to this world.

Your job is to hold the faith until your child embraces his calling.

It is there. The seed was planted in her long ago. The voice speaks quietly, but it still speaks.

Encourage your children to trust themselves to listen to that small voice inside. They mistakenly think the voice of will come in a thunder, shouting, “This is your passion! This is what you are meant to do with your life!” So they ignore the little things.

Help them believe that even the smallest of seeds can grow abundantly.

Have faith, strong mothers and fathers.

Your children need you still.

Be the stable port. If you are successful, your children will sail away from you. But they will sail confidently knowing they can return to the safe harbor your faith provides.


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