There are many reasons why families get stressed out during the college admissions process. For parents who never received any type of formal post-secondary education, their children’s success is what they have dreamed about all their life. For well-educated, even financially well-off parents, times have changed drastically. The college admissions process is nothing like it was when they went to college! Regardless of the socio-economic background, all college-bound families feel too much stress, which reflects on the students as anxiety, making it harder for them to find a way out especially during a time when they are still trying to find out who they really are.
Think about it: You have a high schooler who cannot even make up her mind about what to wear to school tomorrow. Or, your son does not care about anything other than “Fortnite.” You have not failed as a parent, nor has your teenager failed as a child! It is just a phase which will soon pass, but for now, it is very real, so you need to tackle it as best as you can. The number one reason why today’s teens have anxiety is because of their parents – do not hate me! I am a parent just like you, so I have been there… I have been hated… I have made mistakes… I have learned it the hard way… I am sharing everything I know with you so that you can do better. I know for a fact that although they will never admit it, this is the time when your children need you the most. Be there, be present, love them unconditionally, and be the parent they need more than ever. They might be acting as if they do not care about the college admissions process at all, but they do care more than you can ever imagine. It is the constant fear of letting you down that they are battling with deep inside. All the slammed doors and the yelling that will bring all the neighbors to your doorstep are actually a cry for help. They are as confused as you are (if not more)… The prospect of going to college is a H-U-G-E bite for them to swallow! All that independence masks they put on their faces are fake, just to conceal their true feelings, their fear. Think about yourself when you were 16 or 17 years old. Did you know the things that you know today? Absolutely not! Did you make mistakes? Certainly yes! That is an inevitable part of growing up. If you do not let your children go through the natural process of growing up, then how are they ever going to grow up? You need to start treating them like young adults and tell them how much you believe in them and you love them – every single day… Nothing else… Trust me, all else will fall into place… in time…
You must have heard of the phrase “helicopter parenting”. As much as it is sad to see that there was a need to coin a phrase like this, I would like to give you the definition for it. Google tells me “a helicopter parent is a parent who pays extremely close attention to a child’s experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions.” Have you ever pondered the results that could arise from such a parenting approach? Can you imagine your teen leaving for college and having to spend the rest of the next four years all by himself/herself on a college campus? Have you ever thought about the fact that because of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) regulations, you will not be allowed to access any academic information when your son/daughter starts college? Did you know that your child needs to give you an authorization for you to be able to access or act upon his/her medical records when he/she turns 18? How adequately do you think you are preparing him/her for the fast approaching adult years ahead? These are questions for you to consider and answer for yourself.
Does the college admissions process have to be that stressful? Absolutely not! Is it easier said than done? Yes! Then, how can this stress be reduced? This all starts with a good counselor if you are fortunate enough to have one. At EdMission Possible, we tell our parents that their son/daughter will mimic their anxiety, so we ask them not to panic in front of their teenager. When the college-bound student sees the parents in utmost crisis mode, he/she thinks his/her chances of going to college are slim and starts doubting him/herself. We believe that the most important step is to keep the parents calm and sane. As soon as the parents have a more positive attitude towards the whole process, the student will follow immediately. After all, children always shadow their parents, so we need to educate the parents first and then ask them to step back to give more space to their son/daughter, who should be in charge of his/her future. That is the student-centered college counselingTM approach we use at EdMission Possible, where we train our students to design their own future and take responsibility for their own actions. Our experience has proven that our effective approach prepares our students not only for college but also for life. Call us today to find out how we can help your teen navigate the college admissions process without getting lost!
If hiring a college counselor is out of your scope, do not worry. Just register on our website at the bottom of the page to download a free pdf copy of our Junior and Senior Application Timelines, which should give you a solid idea about where to start from. Then, make sure you set realistic goals on your high schooler and arrange the tasks in manageable chunks. At EdMission Possible, we do value giving back to our community, so consider it as our gift to you. Happy college planning!
Burcak Deniz Cakir, M.A., M.B.A.
Founder and President | EdMission Possible