You can cut the tension with a knife in the homes of many high school seniors about now. Kids are wide-eyed and sleep deprived. Mothers are resorting to tears or raised voices. Rigorous classes are taking their tolls and college applications are way more complicated than anticipated. Things can deteriorate quickly if we don’t take a longer view.
Here are some things to keep in mind when the application season goes sideways:
1. Relationships trump. Always.
If your child is a senior, no matter what happens, remember that they will soon be leaving home. It is your last year with this amazing kid who lights up your world. Even if they have gotten behind, underestimated the task in front of them, become overwhelmed and paralyzed, lost their temper, or been downright rude, understand that this too shall pass. It is a temporary situation while your relationship with them must go the distance. Do what you can to be supportive. Ignore the personality aberrations. Go bake your child’s favorite cookies.
2. God is in control and knows where your student needs to go to college.
It is my job to help families present their student in the best possible light to potential colleges. It is a parent’s job to help make decisions, research colleges, even do secretarial work such as filling out the mundane questions on applications or prepare school documents if they homeschool. It is the student’s job to write essays, short answer questions and own the process. We all work hard and do the best we can do. But through it all, we have to hold the final decision lightly.
Selective colleges have their own institutional goals set by their Board of Trust. They are looking for specific things this application season and your student may or may not meet a number of them. While the selection process is very personal, the decision they make is not a personal comment on the worth of the student. That is why we apply to a range of schools. It is also helpful to remember that God is in control of this. We do our jobs. He orchestrates the outcome. Time and time again I have seen a disappointed student get to his new college home only to discover that it is the best possible fit for them. A door was shut so they would go where they needed to go.
3. Remember to breathe.
Staying calm is the greatest gift we can give our seniors. A smile, a quick hug, putting our shoulder to the wheel when they start to lag can build relationship and make even this tough experience a time of growth and joy. Did I mention that cookies help too?
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