College Conversations Causing Family Stress? Let Me Talk You Down...
Stressed spelled backwards is Desserts
The holiday season brings friends and relatives together to share good times and favorite foods. But along with fudge and pecan pie, holiday gatherings can bring additional tension for seniors applying to colleges. One source of stress is well-meaning adults peppering students with college questions and offering (often out-of-date and irrelevant) advice. Here are a few tips on handling holiday get-togethers:
Limit college talk. I always recommend that students and parents set aside an hour during the week to talk about colleges and applications. Maybe it’s Sunday night after everyone has shared a nice weekend together. Maybe it’s Saturday morning over homemade cinnamon rolls. Whatever time you decide, honor it and don’t bring up the subject for the rest of the week. During Winter Break, your child probably needs a break. Tell guests that your teen would really appreciate a conversation about something, anything besides college: sports (how about those Giants?), movies (wasn’t Interstellar great?) or hometown happenings (have you tried that new sushi place?).
Only share information with permission. Along with your recipe for salted caramel cheesecake, folks will want you to share information about which schools your student is applying to, their SAT scores, and which sport they will be playing in college – and will it be televised on ESPN? My advice? Decide with your teen what can and can’t be discussed. Have answers ready for the most common questions. For example, your student can say, “I am applying to several California public schools and some out of state privates. I’ll let you know in a few months where I will be going,” and "I prefer not to share my SAT scores." Then smile and change the subject (see above for topic ideas).
Keep expectations in check. When the college letters and emails start to arrive, resist the temptation to open them yourself. And if the decision is not what you expected, keep your disappointment to yourself. Remember that there are over 3,000 colleges in the US and your child will be admitted to one of them (a note here: make sure there are anchor schools on that college list). Grades, test scores and college acceptances (or rejections or deferrals) are not a measure of your child’s worth or your accomplishments as a parent. Their success lies with them, not the school they ultimately choose to attend. It’s their journey, their college sweatshirt. Let them find their way. Focus on what is important, and pass the cheesecake. I’ll take a big ol' slice of that.
About Liz Murphy College Advising Liz Murphy College Advising, based in Half Moon Bay CA, provides a relaxed, personalized approach to help students find success at a college that best fits their academic, social and financial goals. I meet one-on-one with students and offer workshops. Seniors, I am offering college application assistance and essay review. Juniors, I can help you develop a meaningful list of colleges to explore as well as assist with test planning. Sophomores, we can work together to identify extracurricular activities that you love and that promote engagement and leadership. Contact me for an appointment.
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We were overwhelmed by the college application process and having a hard time communicating with our son about all the necessary steps. Liz immediately took time to get to know Myles better, and started giving him valuable guidance that he took to heart. Liz has made herself available throughout the process, and communicated regularly via email; Myles is now well on his way to completing his applications! It has been wonderful to have a trusted "non-parent" adult involved in the process.