A long time ago in a far away place—in my 20s and living overseas—I started my career in the for-profit world as a design assistant to a men’s fashion designer. It was in this job that I first learned how the designer generated the ideas for his clothing line from the world around him, with a special emphasis on taking inspiration from introspection, from his life experience, and from nature.
I have often thought of how deliberate and thoughtful he was in his choices. I also recall how he’d sometimes make a choice and then later remake that same choice based on his evolution of thought about how he wanted his design to manifest.
His selection of everything, from the lining, to the buttons, to the font on the tags, was representative of his choices, instincts and intuition. Seeing the many thoughtful decisions that went into the creation of just one article of clothing, I learned the truth of what Charles Eames said about design: “The details are not the details. They make the design."
Approaching College Decisions with a "Design Thinking" Attitude
Years ago, it became clear to me that the college admissions process was lacking a system for teaching students to get to know themselves and think of their internal world as the starting point in their college application decisions. It wasn’t until after I’d spent many years thinking about the process and what it lacked that I remembered what I’d learned many years before about design.
What Does Design Have to Do with College Decision-Making? More Than You Think!
When I say, “design,” I don't mean fancy designers, runways, or products on Fifth Avenue. Quite the contrary. I am referring to design as a way of thinking and as a creative act.
Let’s start with the standard definitions of “design." Design is:
A) A particular purpose held in view by an individual or group
B) Deliberative, purposive planning
The Purpose, Planning & Intention Behind Our Actions
Most folks think that the “purpose” of applying to college is to “get in.” But really, the college application experience in its highest form can and should be much more than that.
Unfortunately, not nearly enough students have any particular purpose beyond "getting in" when they complete their applications. Even worse, the current system does not encourage students who see their college admissions process as simply a starting point on their journey into adulthood. These future-focused students rarely receive the support they need to undertake “deliberative, purposive planning.”
Consider the noun version of the definition: “The purpose, planning, or intention that exists or is thought to exist behind an action, fact, or material object.”
Without purpose, planning, and intention, students and other stakeholders can miss out on the most meaningful outcome of their college experience!
Tips & Methods for a Purpose-Driven Search
If you are a student, parent, coach, or mentor looking for an escape from the current madness of college admissions, you should check out Admissions by Design. You'll find a lot of great tips and research on unconventional, yet tested methods for finding the right college—with purpose.