The college application process can be one of the most stressful times in a teen’s life. So, it makes sense that a parent would have the natural instinct to overcompensate by trying to take on most of the workload to alleviate some of their burdens. But are you helping them in the long run? That’s the question.
Yesterday, we talked about key principles every parent should know while starting out the college application process, and today, I want to dive deep into what every legal guardian should avoid at all costs during this time of year.
7 Things Parents Should Never Do During The College Application Process
Before you head down the list, I want to confess that I am guilty of most of these and that is exactly why I was prompted to write this blog post. It was a gut check for ME. A personal slap in the face! A digital wake-up call to step back and let my eldest live her life at her own pace and on her own time. So, if I sound judgemental, please know I was standing in front of a mirror.
Write Your Child’s Essay
It is very important for your child to write their own personal statement during the college application process. Of course, it would be easier for you to take on some of the writing elements, especially if it is your strong suit, but college admission officers can tell when an adult wrote a piece and when they didn’t.
They are looking for a 17-year-old’s voice and they want to hear from your child. It’s not about receiving a perfect essay. It’s more about understanding whether or not your child will be a good fit into the university’s overall community. It really doesn’t matter if YOU gel with the student body.
Micromanage Their Every Move
I had to have a big “coming to Jesus” moment with this notion. Stop doing every single thing for your children because if they really go away, then they won’t be able to handle life without you.
I didn’t realize this until I watched a video online and listened to a professor speak about how many of her students were unable to tie their shoes without their moms reminding them to do so! I am completely guilty of this!!
My children need to be told – every morning like clockwork – to take their vitamins even though they are right in front of them on the dining room table. They forget. It’s like a game we play. That’s my role – the nag.
Well, it has to stop. From now on, they have to learn responsibility AND consequence. If things don’t get done, then other things will get taken away until they understand the concept of independence. It’s gotta hurt, people!
I will still help with deadlines and submissions. I absolutely think you should, too! But reminding them to take virtual tours, check their emails, speak to their counselors, sign up for tutoring, etc. I don’t know? At 16, it’s time to claim some responsibility for their own lives.
Take Over The Entire Process
Are you a Type A personality? List maker? An overbearing entrepreneur like me? Hi. My name is Vera Sweeney and I like to just DO IT.
There’s nothing I hate more than waiting around for someone to get something done when I can finish the job in ten minutes. It drives me wild!
However, we – as parents – are hurting our kids in the long run if we just HANDLE IT. We have to allow our littles to own the college application and selection process because this is literally their life. They need to be the ones to walk this path, even if it’s a slow crawl.
Choose Their Major
Personal storytime. My daughter wants to be an early education teacher and I am so happy for her because I think that’s the perfect occupation for her personality AND I think it’s a GREAT job. She is wonderful with kids, there is a pension at the end of that rainbow, and there are summers off. Need I say more?
However, I don’t think she should go for an early education major because it really pigeonholes you into that occupation. My cousin is a teacher and she keeps telling me to make Natalie get anything BUT an education undergraduate degree just in case she doesn’t like teaching. School counseling, communications, history, or ANYTHING ELSE.
Then, she can go for her MASTERS in early education – something she has to get anyway – and be guaranteed to have a backup should things go south. Personally, I think this sounds like a great plan. It’s smart and makes sense to me. She could even do THEATRE if she wants. How fun!
My daughter wants no part of this. She wants an early education undergraduate and a master’s degree. It’s driving me crazy.
Logically, I know she shouldn’t go this route, but what can I do? It’s her life! Communications would be much more transferrable should she ever want to move to the business world!! But what can I do? WHAT CAN I DO? I don’t know actually. I’m struggling with this one… but I think I need to leave the ball in her court.
Create Their College List For Them
You can help them research their college options for them, but in the end, your children need to decide which locations they want to explore on their own. Only they know which places feel right.
Of course, it goes without saying their options have to be financially possible and within range of your family’s boundaries (distance you feel comfortable with etc.)
Assume You Know Everything
When you are speaking to a counselor or a parent of a child who goes to a school you are interested in, please just listen. Just because you read something on a forum doesn’t mean you are the expert.
It’s critical to sit back and CONSUME data at this stage of your child’s life. The more you listen, the more equipped you will be to help your littles when the time comes. Knowledge is power.
Become Obsessed With The “Hook”
Guilty as charged. “You know what you should do? You know what you should do?” That’s literally me -every five minutes of the day and I have to stop.
While it’s important to remind your children that they need to stand out and push themselves over the next few years, you don’t need to start entering yodeling competitions to stand out. Or maybe you do… I’m still not sold on this one. I need therapy.
Back the heck up. Take a breathe. Pour some wine. Get a hobby. Start doing Worlde. I love that game! Remind yourself that it will all work out, but secretly do the research you need to be able to sleep at night. Just don’t stress your kids out more than they already are, because they are STRESSED. Be a soft place to land… not a tornado the nano second they walk in the house.
Like I said, this post was written for me by me. If you are reading this and it resonates, I’m happy it might help your household. But I need an adjustment and this is how I process emotions as a writer.