Wednesday, July 8, 2009

What's Your Life Goal?

I spent much of last week on vacation with my family, which includes our dog Samwise, shown here in mid-retrieve.

On the ride home, our daughter told us about a conversation she’d recently had with two of her fourth-grade friends about something they called their “life goals.”

“Jenny’s life goal is to try mahi-mahi,” she said. When we asked her why mahi-mahi, she thought for a minute. “I don’t know,” she said finally. “Maybe because she’s never tasted it.”

She went on to tell us about John, whose life goal is either to get a minifridge or to become a garbage collector -- the latter, we were told, "because he just likes the stench."

People who work in admissions like to talk about "passion," which I suppose is our word for "life goal." It's not a word I'm fond of, mainly because students tend to hear it not as passion but as Passion -- something cosmic, final, and fantastic, rather than something familiar, provisional, and real.

We ask about your passion not so that we can weigh your aspirations, much less pass judgment upon them. Rather, we ask because we long to know who you are.

Whatever drives or intrigues you -- whether it's medicine or monetary theory, travelling or retrieving, gustation or refrigeration or sanitation -- is exactly what we hope you'll show us should you choose to apply to Carolina.

In the meantime, please know that we wish you all the best.

--Stephen Farmer