The more I learn from the ongoing research on adolescent cognitive development, the more I realize the degree to which high school students are expected to make major decisions for which their brains are not quite ready. It’s no wonder that the college decision process, as well as the consideration of careers, is so overwhelming for many if not most 17- and 18-year-olds. I remember my son at that age: he couldn’t imagine going into any field other than music. Yet the plethora of choices and decisions without clear guidelines to facilitate the process proved to be highly confusing and enormously time-consuming for him. In fact, it became the inspiration for the creation of MajoringInMusic.com, in an effort to ease some of that angst for other students – and their parents.
According to the American College of Pediatricians, young people’s brains are, “under construction….The frontal lobe, the judgment center or CEO of the brain, allows the individual to contemplate and plan actions, to evaluate consequences of behaviors, to assess risk, and to think strategically. It is also the ‘inhibition center’ of the brain, discouraging the individual from acting impulsively. However, the frontal lobe does not fully mature until approximately 23 – 25 years of age.” The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry goes on to say that the significant differences in how adolescents’ brains deal with decision-making and problem-solving compared to adult brains can even be seen in “pictures of the brain in action.”
How, then, can we support college-bound arts students as they face decisions and choices they’re not developmentally ready to make? Read the rest of this entry »