Is your kid waiting for the college decisions? Here are a few pointers to help them through the anxiety!
It's almost April 1, and for kids and parents out there waiting to hear from colleges, it can be a really miserable time. Every day we ask,
"Did you get the mail? Is the envelope fat or thin?" Today, perhaps the better question is, "did you check the website? Is the decision up yet?"
For many kids, these next few weeks will be difficult for a variety of reasons. Some will be ecstatic, hearing that their dream school wants them, while others may hear that while their dream school has accepted them, it hasn't offered a financial aid package that will meet their requirements.
For others, rejection may become a daily occurrence; a new phenomenon for many kids. Others will be overwhelmed with indecision when they are accepted at a variety of schools, but have no idea how to choose the "right" one.
Still others may have their dreams fulfilled, while their friends are left disappointed and dejected. Navigating those waters may be the first time those relationships are truly tested.
Over these next few weeks, the dreaded "did I get in" question will finally answered.
So what can you do to help your kid through it?
1. Relax: Your kid is well aware that mail is on the way. Let him decide when to look and how often to discuss it. If you text from work each day asking if he checked the mail, ask him if his friends have heard from anyplace, call the college, etc. you only amp up his stress.
2. Refrain from texting your son/daughter at school or at work to tell him, "It's here!" What do you want him to do from there? All this accomplishes is making him more anxious and you will be inclined to want to open it yourself.
3. Reign Yourself In: DO NOT OPEN the mail. As much as you want to, this is HIS/HER moment. You can wait, and they need to be the ones to get the news first.
4. Remind them that you are proud of them regardless of what the college decides: It's important for them to know that the colleges' decisions about their readiness, ability to succeed or "fit" at their particular school is not necessarily representative of your feelings about it.
5. Reinstate Reality: Hopefully, throughout the process, you have infused reality checks along the way. Your son/daughter should be reminded that not every school can take every qualified kid, not every school is right for everyone, and that, during your own application process, you deemed certain schools "reach schools" for a reason.
6. Revisit at least two schools for "accepted students days:" Your child was probably fairly disengaged the first time they visited schools because, for them, the idea of college was still pretty far away. Touring schools with an eye toward actually attending wasn't foremost on their minds. Now, they are in, and can look seriously at the things that will help them make a decision.
7. Replace your visions with theirs: All through this process you, most likely, have had your own ideas about where your kid should go. When they choose something different, you need to try to replace the way you see the choice with what they are seeing. This doesn't mean you can't share your thoughts and concerns, but you need to try to understand what they are envisioning; especially why they see themselves there.
8. Repeat this mantra: "This isn't a life and death decision." While it's true that for most kids this is the biggest decision they've made so far in their lifetimes, remind them that it's not a "forever" choice. If they are miserable, they can transfer. As much as you hope that they are happy and successful wherever they first attend, it doesn't mean that their choice is written in blood. Give them the out. It's been my experience that most kids are in their first choice by Halloween. They get there, they make friends, and they start having fun and suddenly can't imagine being anywhere else.
9. Remember there is a college for everyone: I firmly believe this to be true and I also think that both students and schools are great at finding their matches. The application process, along with admissions staff do a pretty good job weeding out those that are least likely to succeed at their schools. I also believe teens are amazingly self- aware and realistic about their abilities and expectations. They are often much better at knowing themselves than their own parents are.
10. Rejoice: Make this a happy time! Both you and your kid deserve to celebrate. He/She is starting the next exciting chapter in his/her life. After the last few months of anxiety, stress, applications and writing essays, it's over and the fun part begins. Bake a cake, tie balloons to your mailbox, buy the school bumper sticker and sweatshirt and rejoice at all you have accomplished!
Are you and your kid waiting for the mail? How do you plan to help them get through it all?