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  • Dione Chen

Palo Alto High Parent Education: Raising Our Kids in Tumultuous and Uncertain Times

How can parents help their students to build self awareness, agility, resilience and authenticity to lead a life well lived? In February, I was a panelist at a Palo Alto High parent education event on raising students in these uncertain and difficult times. I was joined by fellow Gunn High alum Ron Morita, a life coach and tech executive, and Dr. Kathleen Dong, MD, a psychotherapist and writer.


Key points, along with actionable advice included:

- Parents and students both benefit when students are empowered and entrusted to define and pursue "success" beyond the conventional definitions and paths.

- Parents can play an important supporting role to students. Conversation tips: 1. Be "opportunistic" - be available when students want to talk (even if it's not convenient); 2. Be a good listener - no need to jump in and provide advice and opinion; 3. Offer support; 4. Voice confidence in them.

- Studies show that grit, self-awareness, empathy and having a sense of purpose are tightly linked to long-term happiness, personal well-being and academic and professional achievement.

- Admissions committees and employers alike evaluate candidates on a holistic basis -- they are looking for individuals with not only high IQ and the ability and interest in learning, but also emotional intelligence (EQ) and adaptability (AQ).


I and my fellow panelists have consistently observed how important resilience, resourcefulness and flexibility, as well as compassion, integrity and openness are to achieving happiness and success. Yes, truly. In my consulting practice and volunteer work establishing leadership programs for Stanford alumni. I consistently find that high-achieving applicants to MBA and other graduate programs take risks, work hard and maintain a "growth mindset" that knowledge and skills can be increased with initiative, effort and a positive attitude. It turns out that charting a productive and fulfilling "admissions journey" has much in common with the pursuit of a life well-lived, truly. In fact, this conviction is at the heart of my approach to helping clients to achieve their educational, personal and professional goals.

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