There is nothing quite as nerve-wracking as the college admissions process, and coming from someone who has been through it, I would never want to go through it again. But it’s something that almost every kid goes through, and as August has rolled around it’s time for seniors in high school to start figuring out what their admissions process is going to look like. Having to plan out the next four years of your life can be terrifying, and nothing is more important than having the proper support from the people around you. Whether you are a parent, guardian, relative, or just a friend of someone going through the college process, it’s easy to get caught up in the stress of it all. So how can you be there for your kid going through this?
Remember that this process is about them, not you.
I promise you that no matter how stressed you are, your kid is that much more stressed. Remember that whatever you want for your kid, they have agency and should be able to plan out the next four years of their life. Of course, your suggestions and guidance can be helpful, but ultimately the choice is up to them. Whether it’s a private institution, a public college, community college, or something else entirely, trust in your child to know what’s best for them. They’ve probably spent a long time thinking about what they want, and whatever they settle on just try to be supportive.
Try to remain neutral about whether or not you think someone will get into a school.
It’s best to not give out your predictions, whether they’re negative or positive. There are so many factors that go into the college admissions process that you can never give anyone an accurate estimate on whether or not you believe they will get into a school. It’s best to just hope for the best, and tell them that. You can’t know what will happen, and that’s scary especially when it comes to someone you love. But you just have to be able to relinquish control and take your hands off the reins for a moment. Your predictions will do nothing but create hope or make a dent in your kid’s self-esteem.
Trust your kid.
It’s important to remember that the college process is likely a lot different from when you applied, especially if you haven’t applied to college in the past decade or two. With COVID and the internet changing so much about the college process, trust that your kid knows best. They’ve been preparing to deal with this college process through school, so trust that they know what they’re doing. Don’t be a hawk, and don’t be a helicopter. Just let them do what they need to do.
If your child doesn’t want to share some of the more personal parts of the college process, don’t pry. By no means am I saying don’t let them get their stuff done and just let them reign free, just understand you don’t have to look over their shoulder every step of the way. They probably have a college counselor helping them through it, and if they don’t, just try to gently urge them to make sure they have some sort of plan and are getting things done in time. But don’t force them to let you read their supplements and common application, because stuff like that can get really personal. Understand that if they do share that kind of stuff with you, it’s in confidence and you should respect that. Most kids really open up in their essays, and it can be hard to share that vulnerability with someone close to you.
Whatever happens, happens.
This was something my parents told me constantly throughout my college process, and something I still repeat to myself now. The reality of things is that you don’t know what will happen. You don’t know if your kid will get into their dream school. You don’t know if they’ll get rejected from their safety school. You don’t know where they’ll end up. But the reality is that, whatever happens, happens. If something goes wrong then okay, so be it. Just remember that whatever life gives you, there will be something to equally weigh it out. The world will never burden you with something so terrible that you cannot handle, so just strong it out and I promise, no matter where your kid ends up, it’ll be the place for them. I know so many people who ended up somewhere that wasn’t their top choice and can’t see themselves anywhere else. So if things go wrong, or things go right, just accept them as they are.