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Moving Closer to the People God Made Us to Be: Making wise decisions

May 26, 2021 by Admin

Recess and Rhetoricby Sophie Troya, College Counseling Director

I have spent a lot of time thinking and learning about the topic of wisdom. In fact, my name, Sophie, literally means “wisdom.” Here at Providence, I spend my days supporting Upper School students in making wise decisions about where to continue their education in college.  

In a 2021 series, “Life’s Biggest Decisions,” in Psychology Today, Dr. Adrian R. Camilleri (University of Technology Sydney (UTS) Business School) surveyed 20- to 80-year-old participants about their biggest life decisions, including what those decisions were and when they made them. An important takeaway from his research is that “big life decisions are front-loaded.”

“You are most likely to make a big life decision between ages 16 and 35,” he notes. “These are busy times as many people get an education, pursue a career, put down roots, and start to build a family.”

Dr. Camilleri’s research shows that in the landscape of our whole life, the 15-20 years beginning in late high school are when we make many of our biggest life decisions. 

In another piece posted on The Conversation, Dr. Camilleri discusses the value that was added to his research when he began asking people about their biggest regrets. He compiled a number of factors that contributed to people’s feelings of regret, but most notably, he found that “the most enduring regrets in life result from decisions that move you further from the ideal person that you want to be.” As a Christian, I would argue that this is more aptly described as decisions that move you further from the person that God has created you to be

Seniors 21
Providence School Class of 2021 seniors have been accepted to 40 colleges across the country.

This is where wisdom and wise decision-making come in. Wise decision making is one of the 16 habits of the mind Providence School seeks to develop in our students. Wisdom, while certainly entangled with knowledge, has more to do with discernment, sound judgment, and applying knowledge than knowledge for its own sake. 

As a Christian school, we absolutely want our students to learn, but we also want them to learn what to do with the things that they learn. We want the things students learn to inform the way they live. We want to set them up to make wise and thoughtful choices and life decisions. 

But, how does this happen? How do we make wise decisions? How do we become people who make decisions that move us closer to the people God has created us to be? And furthermore, how do we raise children who make these wise life decisions? I would argue that it has a lot to do with other people. 

Wisdom grows one step ahead and one step behind

During my collegiate years, I had many impactful peers and professors, but the people who hands-down played the most significant role in shaping me during that formative time were my soccer coaches.

One nugget of wisdom that continues to shape the way I live my life came from Westmont’s former head women’s soccer coach, Kristi Kiely. She said that when she considered her own journey of growth, her spiritual and personal development was directly related to the people in her life that were both one step ahead and one step behind her. In other words, she grew the most when she had intentional people who were in life stages ahead of her, who were further along in their walk with the Lord or a step ahead in their careers.

But, it didn’t stop there. She noticed she also grew as a result of the people who she was in turn pouring into, reaching back a hand to help them along the way. 

The Bible has a lot to say about wisdom and folly. Proverbs 15, in particular, is rich with guidance about how we ought to live, but verse 22 hits home: “without counsel plans fail, but with many advisors they succeed.” 

Who are the mentors for wise decision making?

Having faithful mentors and advisors in our lives helps us to make wise decisions, both big and small. The people we can look to when faced with difficult decisions, the people in the stages ahead of us who can offer direction and prayer on our behalf, the people who encourage us to make choices that bring us closer to becoming the people that God has created us to be, they provide crucial counsel when making life decisions. 

I can still remember a time when, as a high school recruit, I was sitting on the lawn outside the college dining commons and having what would become one of many meaningful conversations with a college student who was just one life stage ahead of me. She asked thoughtful questions, was serious about growing deeper in her faith, and was interruptible for a confused and searching high school student at the crux of making a big life decision. I distinctly remember walking away and thinking to myself, “that is the kind of person I want to be.” She, without even really realizing it, brought me closer to becoming the person God wanted me to be. 

Distinctly Christian education produces wise decision makers

Distinctly Christian education aims to place students in this exact scenario for optimal growth and formation. From preschool through high school, students are mentored by teachers, administrators, coaches, club leaders, and older students who reach back to offer a hand and are available and willing to listen, encourage, and offer counsel. But, we also want them to be those people to others. We want them to be called upon to reflect and share the wisdom they have learned along the way, to lead and bless others.


Sophie TroyaSophie Troya has a passion for mentoring high school students as they go through the college decision-making process. She earned a certificate in college counseling from the University of California at San Diego and a bachelor’s degree in communication studies from Westmont College, where she played on the women’s soccer team. She joined the Providence faculty in 2018. She and her husband, Derek, also serve in youth ministry in Santa Barbara and are the proud parents of a one-year-old little boy.

 

 

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For more information on how Providence School walks alongside students and families as they make the college decision, visit the College Counseling page of our website

For more information on the distinctly Christian education at Providence School, contact Tawny Kilpper, admissions director, at tkilpper@providencesb.org

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