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By Jonathan Mooney , Kristin Stanberry
I don't think 5-year plans are effective for many people. A big turn in my life was going to Loyola Marymount University. I got through high school by being a jock, by focusing on sports. But in college I knew I had to make it academically as well. So I set my own goal to transfer to a "Top 10" university within one year. I started by focusing on that goal and worked backwards to outline the steps required to reach that goal. I'd need to make good grades, apply for an internship, and research and apply to top universities. But the motivation and the specific goal had to come from within me. If another adult had forced me to set that goal, it would have turned me off.
So I encourage students with learning differences to set their own goals and be realistic and organized about reaching it. It also helps to be flexible and understand that the journey may not take you along a straight path. You may need to adjust your goal as you move along. I recommend using goals as guiding principles, not rigid rules.
A word to parents about college: Adults should accept that not all kids - including those who are self-aware - will choose to go to college. Some will opt for trade school or other non-collegiate venues. As long as this choice is based on self-awareness and not the fear of failure, it may be the best choice.
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