I was talking to a mom recently regarding the stress and angst of her rising senior, “She’s just not sure what to study, where to begin, where to look, and her test scores are not good.” After lingering over some coffee and digging even further it wasn’t her child that was stressed, it was her! YES—the parental pull! When to let go, give control, or find a balance. The daughter is not taking this “college search” seriously and mom is feeling as if list after list is not making sense for her. Of course it’s not-mom is doing all the work.
In order for the college process to be owned by the student, the student must be involved, committed and part of the equation. I often encourage parents to establish weekly meetings to discuss college and only college; 1-2 hrs. per week should be set aside. However, each party must have homework, and established research to present and discuss at the next meeting. The student must call or email 2 schools to coordinate a tour, or the parents must meet with their accountant to arrange for a financial aid discussion. As senior year approaches more time should be spent to discuss options, and make sure everyone is on the same page.
Back in the day my parents were clearly not in agreement-I wanted a 4 year private school. My dad wanted me to join the NAVY and my mom was supportive no matter what, just overwhelmed and confused. I cannot imagine returning to those kitchen table “arguments” with the amount of testing, increase in applications, essays, and those visits. Let alone the cost of all that is involved.
The difference is I owned my path; I made the calls, completed the applications and wrote my essays. I’m not saying all parents today are writing essays, but encouraging and expecting the student to be involved is critical, on all levels! As the student invests in his/her own education and future—they too might begin to feel what you are feeling; pressure, stress and the force of society dictating what’s right or wrong. If not, they are happily hanging with friends, swimming, and heading out to the movies while you are creating just one more list.