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The Two Gifts: Helping high school students and their families make the best college decision

Updated: Dec 20, 2022

Our nonprofit, Definitive Social, provides college decision seminars for High School students. These seminars are included as part of the College Xoice ® app and the relationship with our college counseling teammates and their high school students.

Next is our seminar program introduction.

Follow this link for curricula and tools to help you make the best college decision: The College Journey and Beyond

Welcome! My name is Jeff Hulett. I am the Executive Director of Definitive Social. Our nonprofit mission is to help you "Make a better future with better decisions." We provide the College Xoice® app and work with your counselor to help you make the best college decision. We will dig into college decision-making details and how to use our app a little later. But first, we are going to discuss the two amazing gifts we hope you appreciate!

The first gift - The very fact that you are here today - you are listening closely, tracking me, and engaging - tells me you already have the first gift. YOU ALREADY HAVE THE BUILDING BLOCKS YOU NEED TO COMPLETE COLLEGE AND GET GREAT GRADES.

You may wonder - "How the heck can you know that? You don't even know me!"

I know this because of our shared biology. This gift was given by your mom and your maker. You were born with about 100 BILLION neurons packed in your little baby brain. Think of neurons as really little buckets that hold pieces of information. Neuroscience teaches us we are born with almost all the neurons we will ever need! Then, you were also given most of the 100 TRILLION or more synapses you need to think deeply. Think of synapses as the network lines and switches that connect the neuron information buckets. This helps you put together sentences or do a math problem. You were GIVEN a big starter set of synapses and the ability to create new synapses. Synaptic growth is another name for LEARNING!

All this brain material is the CAPACITY you need to be successful in college!

The real question you need to ask yourself, therefore, is NOT whether you are "college material".... that answer is a resounding YES! The better question is whether you are yet ready for college. This means that college is a "NOW OR NOT YET" determination. This is a question you will need to discuss with your folks, caregivers, or counselors. The people on your team! We all grew up in different environments that may impact college readiness. Just because you have the building blocks still doesn't mean you have developed the good habits needed for college success. By the way, many of your friends will SAY they are ready for college. Some may be and some may not. Unfortunately, our culture and peer pressure suggest that 17 years old is a magic age when we all should be ready for college. This is COMPLETE BS. Some of you have been ready for years. Some of you may not be ready until you reach your 20s or beyond.

The secret to college success is STUDY HABITS. We will discuss more of this in our program, including the importance of grades as an indicator of college readiness. We will also discuss alternative routes to college to help PROVE TO YOURSELF you are ready!

The second gift - YOU ARE SURROUNDED BY PEOPLE THAT CARE FOR YOU AND WANT TO HELP. Your counselor is one of them. There is no doubt college decision-making is challenging. This is challenging for ALL people, not just high school students. One of the reasons it is tricky is that our brains are not well suited to make complex decisions like college. Most important - ALL people struggle with this kind of decision-making. Your parents struggle with complex decision-making. I struggle with complex decision-making! The difference is, good decision-makers get help and we want to help you make good decisions!

Why is this hard for all people? - It is the result of how our brains evolved over many thousands of years. The best way to get good at decision-making is to use tools that take care of the hard decision stuff - and leave you with the decision stuff you are good at!

Today, with your counselor, we are going to give you a tool to help you make the BEST college decision! College Xoice® will do much of the decision heavy lifting - but to be clear - it is not a magic button to make the decision for you. You will still need to be the CAPTAIN of your college decision process! THE APP AND YOUR COUNSELOR WILL HELP YOU OWN YOUR COLLEGE DECISION!

What I promise you is this. IF you follow the app's "Top 5" success steps by....

  1. Digging into the learning sections,

  2. Gathering college information,

  3. Engaging in building and ranking your college preferences,

  4. Building and evaluating your college alternatives, and

  5. Sharing and when stuck, ask your counselor and family questions,

THEN, you will be CONFIDENT you have made the best college decision!

This process will help you prove to yourself whether "NOW OR NOT YET" is the best path for you. The effort is its own reward.

Now - Let's Dig In!

Next are the resources we typically provide for the seminar:


Frequently Asked Questions:

Q: I have an older friend that did not do well in school but is smart and got a good job... Are good grades always important?

A: Great Question! The short answer is that it will be easier for you to get a good job if you have good grades. If interested, next is some of my reasoning:

First off, there is a difference between being smart and having good grades. "Smart" is very subjective. For example, "Smart" may be defined as:

  • Our memory capacity or speed of recall,

  • Our speed of processing or reasoning different topics,

  • Our ability to find commonalities between different topics,

  • Our ability to understand and integrate emotion,

  • Our ability to build deep and enduring relationships,

  • It could be something else.

For the employer, their need for "smart" may only be a weighted subset of these definitions. Whereas good grades are objectively based on class assessments and enhanced by study habits to perform well in those assessments. I would say there is a loose correlation between "smart" and "grades" but it is certainly not perfect. Your friend is likely "smart" as needed to get the job but did not score well on class assessments. This is also known as a false negative. There are also people that are good test-takers but may not do well in jobs or otherwise may not be considered as "smart." This is also known as a false positive. The world has many people that fall into the false negatives and false positives category. They will usually reveal their true nature at some point in their lives.

The point is, for large employers, grades and academic majors are used extensively to help decide which people to recruit and hire. Grades act as a proxy for "smart as needed for the role." You may ask, "If smart and GPA aren't the same, then why do employers care about grades?" The reason for this has an interesting history related to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the related disparate impact of protected classes as defined in the Civil Rights Act, and the 1971 Griggs v. Duke Power Supreme Court ruling. The Griggs ruling interpreted the Civil Rights Act to make it unlawful for employers to provide standardized tests to qualify employees for promotions or hire. In effect, Griggs' legal precedent requires employers to "outsource" some job qualification determinations to the college system and college performance like GPA.


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