NYT article: On Education - A Late Start is not always a bad start
Take heart - there is still room in the world for people who do not fit into a one-size fits all cookie-cutter mold. "A Late Start, but Not a Bad Start if the Student Is Finally Ready" is for all those wonderful, creative late bloomers out there.
"Ms. Nolan is now 28, a long-limbed, wheat-haired young woman with hopeful grayish blue eyes who retains something of the teenage rebel in the Yankee cap she slaps on backward. This onetime dropout is a senior at Smith College, bicycling around a campus gussied up in the gold and russet colors of a dazzling New England autumn, a place whose alumnae include Barbara Bush, Nancy Reagan, Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan.
MS. NOLAN is a breathing, pulsing rebuff to parents who despair when their children meander off course and can’t seem to find themselves, those who don’t follow the classic trajectory of graduation by 22 and a high-paying job by 30. Such parents, she advises from her hard-earned experience, should realize that people follow starkly different arcs and timetables, so parents should “never give up on your kid.”
“Just because your child can’t focus on their future when you want them to doesn’t mean they can’t far surpass your expectations when they really do focus,” she said.
When Ms. Nolan was ready to focus, there were places willing to offer her a second chance. After she got her high school equivalency diploma, Westchester Community College, a 30-minute drive from home, let her show off her gifts as a student and her leadership talents as head of the student government.
Then Smith took her into its Ada Comstock Scholars Program, an admission avenue that seems to escape the notice of families who think of Seven Sisters or other selective schools as exclusively for the elite 18-to-22 set. The 31-year-old program, like similar ones at Mount Holyoke and Wellesley, has long recognized that people flower at different paces and that the vagaries of life can trip up even the most fastidious wish lists."