For those who know my family, we are in the middle of the college application process. And like it or not, with that comes quite a bit of stress. High schoolers today face so many more challenges than we parents did back in the day. Many seniors find themselves applying for anywhere from five to 15 (!) colleges. So naturally that can lead to many late nights, stressed 0ut weekends and parents not knowing how they can support their teen.
About a month ago, I attended a seminar hosted by Challenge Success (Check out this great site: http://www.challengesuccess.org/) and heard speaker Dr. Kenneth R. Ginsburg. He is an excellent, dynamic speaker who had all of us listening intensely to every word he delivered. He’s co-authored a book that I recommend to any high school parent who look for ways to support their teen during this college application process. It’s called, Less Stress, More Success — A New Approach to Guiding Your Teen Through College Admissions and Beyond. It’s a must read.
A couple of weeks ago, our own son, Ryan, just hit his first “submit” button for an early action application. Whew… first one out of the way! He still has more to complete in these next couple of months.
Starting from his junior summer, we left it up to him to start the process of selecting possible choices. No pressure, just started the chats about what colleges he was interested in. As parents we were very clear with him (and his sister two years older) that this was his life to lead. The only strong suggestion that Dad had for him was he consider out-of-state schools to broaden his choices. Dad has been great in this process. He has been there for Ryan when he wanted just to brainstorm ideas or review his currently drafted essays. But the most important is that they’ve spent some great quality time together. I could hear them laughing as well as steering off topic and discussing sometimes off-the-wall subjects.
And for me, often I would just sit quietly with the two of them chatting away, observing the bonds still being created even at this point in parenthood. I’d relinquish doing the household chores, my own work or personal pleasure time just to sit with them. Yes, parenthood is about making all kinds of sacrifices, big and small. But in the end, parents all ask themselves, “Have I done my best to support my child?”
Know that for parents as frustrating as this time might feel for you, as deadlines approach and you’re questioning your teen’s focus and upset at their procrastination, that it is many times over more stressful for them. Stop long enough to have heart-to-heart talks with them. Rather than continually drilling over and over negative comments and repeating deadlines that add to their stress, ask them, “What can I do, or not do, to support you?” Just begin there and listen. That’s a good start.