Talk Amongst Yourselves

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Missing those friends, right? With February being the month of Valentine’s Day, it may be time to recognize that absence really does make the heart grow fonder, and that, when separated from those we care about, we can reach out to them in new ways, taking advantage of the opportunity to strengthen our bonds. We’ve been social distancing for months, and although we may not be able to gather in person just yet, we can keep talking!

Life has become a bit quiet, so how about making things more exciting by starting more conversations? Speak with your people in-person (safely masking and distancing), on the phone, via Zoom, online chats — any which way you can. Open conversations with family at home, and with friends, classmates, teachers, grandparents, workout partners, and even strangers whenever a safe opportunity to do so arises.

You likely have friends who have known each other so long that they finish each other’s sentences In fact, finishing sentences is a great way to start a conversation. It turns out that this year’s application to the University of Maryland College Park even uses sentence completions in its supplemental essay prompt:

To tell us more about yourself, please complete the following sentences using only the space provided. (160 characters)

  • If I could travel anywhere, I would go to…
  • The most interesting fact I ever learned from research was…
  • In addition to my major, my academic interests include…
  • My favorite thing about last Thursday was…
  • Something you might not know about me is…

UMD’s prompt encourages students to not think of these prompts as a test, but rather to express themselves openly: “Free your mind, go with your gut: No idea is too silly.” I agree and will even suggest that you try this just for fun. Psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus is credited with, in 1897, being the first to use sentence-completions like these in psychological assessments as insight into a person’s motivations or behavior. In psychology circles generally, sentence-completion assessments are believed to reveal dimensions of one’s personality, and psychologist Carl Jung’s word association test might have actually been the precursor to the modern sentence-completion test.

Nevertheless, this is NOT a test. It’s simply an exercise to give you new ideas for conversations to have with the people you miss having in your life. Here are a few non-college essay prompt warm-up exercises to try for fun (in 160 characters): 

  • It may sound strange, but I am superstitious when it comes to …
  • Yes, a superpower would come in handy right now. If I had one, it would be …
  • My awesome idea for a new app is …
  • I had to laugh when I recently …
  • The all-time greatest sports victory in (name your sport) is…
  • When I am able to travel freely again, I will go (or do) …
  • In college, I see myself …

Now that you have warmed up and are ready to go, keep moving and look forward to engaging with others, encouraging new relationships, growing existing ones, and building your team.

Friends

Reach out! Put yourself out there. Friends are important, so choose yours wisely. Look for people who share your interests and challenge yourself to move beyond the familiar.

Mentors

You may be successful in working by yourself, but great success often involves the support of others. Coaches and counselors are there for you. Ask for help when you run into trouble. Talking, reaching out, and asking for assistance is really important right now.

Teachers

Continue to get to know your teachers because they will help you stay focused and will also help you become more engaged with those around you. Pay attention to what they have to say because you can learn a lot from listening, too.

Communication

Interact through social media (by checking out the accounts of your favorite colleges), log into those college portals, answer your phone, open and respond to emails, call extended family, write a thank you note, or even start a new blog!

Express yourself and reach out to build relationships and strengthen your team. Teachers, parents, grandparents, siblings, counselors, and coaches all have perspective and value to share, so find a way to (re)connect with them that is safe for all during this time. Also, look forward to going off to college and imagine the people who you will meet there. College is a life transition and one that multiplies by many degrees the number of people that you know. Going off to college is about independence but, more accurately, college is about interdependence. Afterall, we are all human, which means that we are social beings who need one another for growth and well-being.

So, keep chatting, moving forward with all of your people, and remember to keep in touch!

Maureen Delaney

Educational Counselor

As a Counselor in Educational Planning, Maureen Delaney considers the strengths and interests of students and helps them to achieve their academic and personal goals. Maureen takes time to establish authentic connections both to students planning for college and those advancing from undergraduate to graduate school. As an engaged partner, she identifies each individual’s strengths, cultivates...

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