It’s early November and, according to pretty much everybody, my high school senior and I should both be having nervous breakdowns.
However, we’re hanging in there, and not because he’s finished his college applications. He hasn’t, but he has requested his transcript and letters of recommendation and is making steady progress on The Common Application and his essays.
Knowing this, I feel reassured. There is a lot of uncertainty and things he can’t control but I’m confident he’ll complete this big task and a year from now will be happy at a school that’s right for him.
I’m confident because he’s worked hard to come up with a list of schools that should result in a few acceptances and a choice he can feel excited about. It didn’t happen by accident — it took months of campus visits, college fairs and information sessions, interviews (on and off campus), consultations with his high school counselor, internet research, reading, and debriefing on everything with his father and me.
It helps that we’ve gone through this once before, with his older brother (we learned some things the hard way that time). By far the best way to keep the application process under control is to finalize a manageable and thoughtful list of schools to apply to.
*Term courtesy of If the U Fits: Expert Advice on Finding the Right College and Getting Accepted by the Princeton Review.
Your student should make an appointment with the high school guidance counselor ASAP. If there’s even one school she’s interested in, or a possible major or area of study she’s drawn to, the counselor can suggest other similar schools to consider. Big Future by the College Board has an interactive search tool. Is there time to fit in a day trip to a nearby campus for a tour? This might get the juices flowing. Find more advice on helping a stuck senior here.
The best thing we can do for our seniors doing this hectic time is to help them maintain a healthy perspective. They are who they are and, if they communicate that in their applications, all will work out fine. Arlene Matthews (Getting In Without Freaking Out) offers this lovely reminder: “Studies show a healthy relationship between high school kids and their parents is a far better predictor of academic success than standardized tests.”
Other recent articles by Diane Schwemm:
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