College Planning Expert’s Tip of the Month – April

Why do you want to go to college?
Before you can figure out what to do in college, you must first ask why
By: Simon Sinek
article courtesy of Next Step Magazine

“Where do I want to go to college?” is the less daunting cousin to the larger, related question, “What do I want to do for the rest of my life?”

First, you have to ask yourself why you want to do what you plan to do.

When you ask yourself what you want to do, you have no option but to start running through lists of things you like or things you think might be appealing.

That’s like trying to answer a fill-in-the-blank question on a test by running through everything you know. You might get to the answer, but it may take you so long that you may never get to the next question.

If this one question causes so much stress to so many people, then it’s worth trying to attack the question from a different perspective.

There is a concept called the Golden Circle that might help. Let me explain.

Starting from the outside-in, every one of us knows what we do. You know the classes you take and the things you do outside of school. Some know how they do it. But very few people can clearly explain why they do what they do.

By why, I don’t mean “to get good grades” or “to make money.” Those are results. By why, I mean what’s your purpose, cause or belief? Why do you get out of bed in the morning, and why should anyone care?

We rarely, if ever, consider why we do things beyond tangible results like grades and money.

Here’s an example of someone who asked “why” first.

Steve Jobs, founder and CEO of Apple, didn’t go into the computer business. He went into business to challenge the status quo and give individuals the ability to stand up to Big Brother. The computer is just what he used to do it.

If you look at all the things Apple says and does, it all goes back to their why.

Just look at their advertising, for example. If Apple were like everyone else, they would say, “We make great computers.” That’s what they do. That’s not very compelling.

But this is: “Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We believe in thinking differently. The way we challenge the status quo is by making our products beautifully designed, simple to use and user-friendly. We just happen to make great computers.”

If you believe what Apple believes, the second version is much more powerful because it starts with why.

The college you choose is the same as the computer is to Apple. It is one of the things you will do to bring your why to life.

The college you choose should be a direct reflection of who you are. Choose the colleges that feel right, and start your search by asking, “Why?”

-Simon Sinek ( teaches leaders and companies how to inspire people. He works with big and small companies, government, military, nonprofits and schools. Check out his book, Start With Why (

~ David Mammano, College Planning Expert, Campus Calm

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