Ken Danford, one of the founders of North Star: Self-Directed Learning for Teens, has written an excellent essay for Huffington Post about taking teens off the college production line and focusing on their passions and interests as a way to nurture self-awareness, expertise, and confidence. He ends his essay with this observation:
When teens experience schooling as more stressful than helpful, we can do better than simply telling them, "Make the best of it until you graduate." We can offer information and support for a different way to grow up. Instead of forcing teens to remain in the "race" to win college admissions, scholarships, and a place for oneself in the world, we might provide teens with a coherent perspective that encourages them to set their own pace toward these same goals. Many families are already doing so. What we need now is a social commitment to make this option widely available.