THE BLOG
10/01/2014 12:36 pm ET Updated Nov 30, 2014

1st Grade and the 1st Year of College

Last year I wrote on the similarities of the college admissions process and the kindergarten admissions process. The bottom line as parents is we want our children to be safe, happy, engaged learners in order to develop intellectually and emotionally. An admissions process should be a journey to tap into your interests as a student and a person, 5Is, and find a community, 4Cs, which will best encourage your (child's) growth.

As I returned to my son's school for 1st Grade back-to-school-night (apple juice and pretzels anyone?), the Head of School and Division Head could have also welcomed the Class of 2018 Penn Parents a few weeks earlier. "We are honored to have your children with us as part of a caring community with dedicated educators who utilize the classroom, outlying green spaces, and the city of Philadelphia to encourage students to enjoy learning and be inquisitive about the world around them." The theme year at my son's school is Air and Weather. Penn's academic theme is exploring the Year of Health. On both campuses, students in different grades and with unique passions will come together to approach these topics with an interdisciplinary and practical lens. Fittingly, the Division Head cited Professor Carol Dweck's work on Mindset, research also discussed on Penn's campus for our college students.

Hearing this welcome also resonated with me as I have the honor of welcoming the class at Convocation along with President Gutmann and Provost Price. Again, the similarity in our messages for students entering college and 1st grade are strikingly similar. We don't want you to try to be perfect. Just take full advantage of the possibilities around you in a unique residential college setting.

So my message to families going through the college admission process and the transition year into college is simple. The world has changed and will continue to change. Keep focusing on what is important and essential to you in life (remember your reflections on the 5Is). And turn to the children for the purest advice.

The rules which my son's classmates (unedited for 5-6 year old grammar; you don't have to be perfect) came up with for the year:

Primary B Class Rules

Take care of classroom and materials

Take care of each other and yourselves

Do Your Best

Simple words, yet important ideals, to live by in 1st grade, college and life.