JEREMY TO A FRIEND: My parents laughed at my list of college choices
JEREMY: Because they were all party schools
JEREMY: What am I supposed to do...go to Harvard?
FRIEND: Maybe that could be your safety school
And so another year of college deadlines approaches. Perhaps you are lucky enough to have a senior who is organized, motivated, and ahead of the game, having sent off common apps, contacted teachers and guidance counselor for recommendations, and forced you to sit down and do the FAFSA form for financial aid. But truly that is a minuscule percentage of the high school senior population. Most kids, maybe including yours, is waiting till the last minute of recorded time, that midnight deadline of whenever to press send. This is a most trying time for parents, and a most trying time for your seniors.
Your senior avoids because once the application is in, the potential for rejection is now on the table. Colleges are so competitive these days, and kids tend to apply to many of the same colleges as their friends, which leaves them open to the accepted ones or the rejection. This is painful stuff, that many of your kids do not give voice too. What you see is procrastination, avoidance and an absence of responsibility taking. What is underneath all these annoying behavior is fear!
So here is a little advice for you forlorn parents. Rather than threaten and yell, use a little of the "I get it" messages. "Hey honey, I get this is a tedious, sometimes boring process. I know it's hard to give voice to those essays, and lay yourself bare to some anonymous admission geek. And most importantly once your stuff is out of your hands, and into someone elses, it is totally out of your control. That is really scary stuff. I am confident in you, and I know that you will get in to a school that you are meant to go to. I'm proud of the work you have done. Is there anything I can do to help you move this process forward so we are not dealing with a last minute deadline."
The work is to help them break down the process into small manageable tasks. It is so hard to see the forest through the trees, and your senior might get overwhelmed with all the steps. So rather than looking at a few hours of college app work, break it done to 20-30 minute segments over a few weeks. This won't feel as scary.
But truthfully, this whole process sucks for all of you. You will feel annoyed, anxious, and frustrated, but then so will your teen. The good news is if they really do want to go to college, they really will get it done, regardless of all your hucking.