Small Groups
Steph Martin

Stephanie Martin, a writer and editor in Colorado, has two teenage daughters.

In The News

New York—One overachieving high school senior faces a tough decision this spring: which Ivy League college to attend. Kwasi Enin, 17, was accepted at all eight of the country’s most elite schools—an extremely rare feat, according to admissions officers.

Kwasi, a first-generation American, ranks 11th in his class, has taken 11 Advanced Placement courses, and scored 2250 out of 2400 on the SAT. He plays three instruments, sings in a choir, does drama and student government, and volunteers at a local hospital.

Barbara Butler, Kwasi’s principal, calls him “incredibly modest, humble, and respectable.” She adds, “He is incredibly dedicated, and he has his priorities straight. He takes advantage of whatever opportunity he is afforded.”

Kwasi credits his “helicopter parents” for motivating him to succeed. “They monitored everything,” he says. “They taught me [that] 95 percent isn’t good enough.”

Invite teenagers into an epic adventure with Jesus. Check out Pierced: The New Testament today!

His parents, who emigrated from Ghana in the 1980s, say they were strict because they wanted the best for Kwasi. “He has no choice,” says his father, Ebenezer Enin. “The choice is to do well, and it’s ingrained in his head that he’s going to perform and be a leader.” Enin adds, “Every kid is special, but if they do the right things, they can get to where [Kwasi] is.”

Kwasi’s fellow students say all the success hasn’t gone to his head. “He’s cool, and he’s blessed,” says Marcus Mingo, 16. “He’s definitely a hard worker.”

Kwasi, who wants to go into medicine, says he’ll choose a school once financial aid packages arrive.

When asked what advice he’d give other students, Kwasi says, “Follow your passions in high school and not just follow suit for what you think can get you into these schools. Develop your outside interests—not just academics.”

Sources: usatoday.com, nypost.com, cnn.com

* * *

Discussion Questions for Students

What’s your reaction to Kwasi’s success? How do you feel about peers who seem to excel at everything? Do you agree with Kwasi’s dad that “every kid” can reach such a high level? Why or why not?

Where do you think Kwasi finds time to achieve so much—and in so many areas? To what extent is it possible to have a healthy, balanced life when you’re aiming that high?

What kind of future do you expect Kwasi to have, and why? How can hard workers guard against burnout?

How much pressure, if any, should parents put on teenagers to succeed? Can young people learn to be self-motivated if they’re always being pushed and monitored by their parents? Explain.

Should parents give their kids a choice about whether or not to do well? What if students do their best but end up with disappointing results? Why doesn’t hard work always guarantee success?

In what areas might you need to boost your effort or dedication: schoolwork? extracurriculars? time with friends and family? relationship with God? other?

What are your passions, and how have you tried to develop and nurture them? What talent would you like to develop further, and how will you find the time to do that? What opportunities are available to you that you might not have taken advantage of yet?

What post-high school goals do you have, and what are you doing now to try to reach them? How many of your choices now are directly or indirectly based on what college or career you’re aiming for?

How do you maintain priorities when so many things are pulling at you? What are some ideas for keeping life in perspective when it gets busy and stressful? when you start fretting about what your future holds?

Scripture links: 1 Samuel 18:12-16; Nehemiah 1:11; Ecclesiastes 2:4-11; Daniel 4:28-37; 2 Corinthians 10:12-18; and Colossians 3:17.

How service-minded are your teenagers? Take this short quiz to find out!

Leave a Comment

Please keep in mind that comments are moderated and rel="nofollow" is in use. So, please do not use a spammy keyword or a domain as your name, or it will be deleted. Let us have a personal and meaningful conversation instead.