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The stakes have never been higher for kids applying to college.
As a parent, it is so easy to focus on the outcome only and lose sight of the journey your child is on from that first college visit through the final decision. Having two children apply to, get in and chose a college this year, there were moments it got the better of me as a mother and us as a family and many times it felt like we got it right.
In the end, there were five important lessons we learned that enabled us to thrive through a year of college visits, counselor meetings, family dinners, standardized tests, applications and the decision process.
Set boundaries about how often you’re going to talk about college and with whom
By far the best advice we got as we started the process was to pick a single day of the week to discuss college and keep the other six days of the week for other things.
Applying to college can become all consuming for parents and children if you don’t set some clear boundaries. By sticking to one day of the week, our family didn’t lose sight of all the rest of life during this milestone year of our children’s lives.
We applied this rule to other people as well. It gave our kids an out when they didn’t want to discuss where they were applying or how it was going. For a year of their lives, all anyone wants to talk with your children about is college. It can create incredible pressure. More than once, my children would tell someone “Sorry, we only talk about college on Saturdays.” It was an important empowerment tool for them.
Discuss as a family what you are going to share with others — and who gets to share it
Early on and frequently, we discussed what information the kids were each willing to share with other people. We wanted them have control of the information and to back them up when they said they didn’t want to share more.
It was very hard when there was good news or when there was something interesting in the process to hold back from sharing with family and friends. We had ongoing conversations about whether the kids or the parents got to share updates. The benefit of that was the constant reminder that this was the children’s process, not the parents. Holding fast together to those boundaries, meant the kids were willing to share a lot with us as parents without having to worry…
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