Dr. Don Williams brings expertise on teens to M-A parent education talk on “college arms race”

by Linda Hubbard on May 5, 2017

Part prescription/part mantra, it goes like this: “Do great in high school. Go to a great college. Enjoy a great life.”

Do teens and parents really believe that? What about the rest of us?

Menlo Park resident Dr. Don Williams, a psychologist whose practice focuses on children and adolescents, is one who does not. He’ll be heading a panel at M-A on Wednesday, May 10, from 7:00 to 8:30 pm titled “Rethinking the college arms race: What do companies really want?”

He’ll be joined by Silicon Valley professionals with expertise on sourcing talent for their companies. They include: Andy Chen, Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers; Sidnie Davis, Tech Student Outreach and University Programs Specialist, Google; Jason Wheeler, CFO of Tesla; and Joy Wolken, People & Talent Consultant at early stage start-ups: Phantom Cyber & Kespry. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is encouraged.

“We hope to inform and broaden parents’ perspective on the college selection journey,” Don said. “The goal is for parents and students to develop a vision for where they want to go based on a broader perspective than ‘great school, great life’.”

Don grew up in the South and received his doctorate in clinical psychology from Rosemead School of Psychology in Los Angeles. His early practice centered on adoption and attachment. His study of clinical neuroscience led him to focus on self-regulation disorders.

“In very simple terms, it’s about activating the frontal lobe instead of stirring up the mid-brain,” he said during a visit to his office in Palo Alto. “The mission is to help kids and families focus on regulation and to promote awareness. It’s about not getting caught up in the little theories and believing that 100% of your thinking is true, when it’s not. .”

In Don’s opinion, successful Silicon Valley parents often fail to understand what opportunities can benefit their kids. “Very few want their kids working schlep jobs, like at fast food places,” he said. “Instead, they want their high school age kids to get internships. But schlep jobs teach you how to be super practical.

“Plus, there are a lot of roads that lead to Rome. Life unfolds. It’s not something you can just plan and put in place. Life is a series of experiments. You try something, and you see what you can learn from it.

“Finally, you can’t be anybody but yourself. And you’re lucky if you can be just that!”

Photo by Linda Hubbard (c) 2017

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