Right about now, you and your teen may be waiting to hear back from colleges about whether or not she’s accepted.
And as if the college application process that led up to this moment wasn’t stressful enough, the anticipation can be enough to drive you both bonkers. It’s easily one of the most nerve-wracking and anxiety-producing steps in the process.
In order to make this decision period easier on your teen (and on yourself), I’m sharing a few tips I’ve learned over the years about the do’s and don’ts of your own actions as a parent.
First, we’ll talk about what to do while you’re waiting, Then we’ll get into what to do when those decisions start coming in.
Stop talking about college.
It’s a fact: we tend to perseverate on things that we’re most emotional about. And nowadays…well, that’s college acceptances.
You’re waiting on those decisions. Your teen’s waiting on those decisions.
But I promise – those letters won’t come any faster if you incessently talk about it with your teen. It may just amp up the stress levels in your house instead. This is a highly stressful part of your teenager’s life, Mom, and it may be something she’s not really into talking about.
And let’s face it – us parents are the worst when it comes to bringing it up. We nag our kids to check the mail or log in to college portals. We wring our fingers at dinnertime with comments like, “Oooh, I’m wondering what’s taking XYZ College so long with their answer. I hope it’s a good sign!”
Well-intentioned, I get it. But not really helpful.
Let your teenager be the guide when it comes to discussing anything about college. Listen. Offer advice or answer questions only when asked.
This’ll help to show her that the outcome isn’t as dire as it may seem (and keep that in mind for yourself – because it isn’t). And it’ll serve to strengthen your relationship with your teen at the same time.
When decisions start rolling in, be supportive + encouraging.
Your hope for your teenager is that she’ll get into all of the schools on her list. But for many students, that’s just not how things pan out.
It can be challenging to know what to do, say or how to react when admissions decisions come in. Your teen’s emotions can range from elation at an acceptance to pure disappointment at a denial.
This is where your encouragement comes in full-force – no matter what.
Help your teenager to focus on positives if she doesn’t get into first choice schools.
Help her to understand that she may not have gotten what she originally wanted, but she’ll feel differently later on.
I hear from many students “I can’t imagine going anywhere else” a year after attending college, even though their first choice school isn’t where they ended up.
If your teen isn’t excited about where she’s been accepted, talk about why the school is a good fit. What’s great about the school, campus, activities, opportunities? How is the school perfect for her?
Remind your teen that the road to success doesn’t run through a particular college.
One of the best things you can do is to remind your teenager of how proud you are and how hard you know she worked, regardless of the outcome.
Don’t discuss acceptances with other parents.
Honestly, it’s just best not to get into comparison conversations of any sort with other parents-of-teens.
It’s so hard not to want to shout from the rooftops that your student made it into a certain college. Or to seek sympathy from friends that your teen didn’t make it into a certain college that you just knew she was perfect for.
But not only could you be hurt or feel inferior to others’ successes in college acceptances, but you could potentially make other parents feel downright horrible about their own situations.
I’ve heard comments between parents like, “Well, I hoped my kid would get into ABC College, but it turns out she only got accepted to her safety school. We’ll just deal with that, I guess – that school was a pretty disappointing result.”
While it may seem innocuous enough, keep in mind that your student’s “safety school” could be another student’s dream school. You can imagine how that other parent might feel at hearing that.
Not to mention – there’s a risk in hurting a teenager’s feelings in a big way if she overhears any of those conversations.
And for the sake of Pete – one last big tip: do not log on to any of those college message boards or forums! They’re absolutely toxic. They’re filled with misinformation, not to mention overly-emotional moms, dads and teens comparing their experiences to everyone else’s.
No one student is the same. No one situation is the same. Just stay away.
Let’s continue the conversation! Leave a comment below.