Your child is a senior in high school. Congratulations and good luck! I have done senior year twice as a parent, first with my son and then with my daughter. I think I understand some of what you might be experiencing. Likely by now, the feeling of shock and nostalgia regarding your “baby” graduating and going to college are being replaced by the stress and anxiety that accompany this huge life change.
Hopefully your child knows where he or she is applying and is in the thick of the process. And you? You are in the thick of all that goes along with being the parent of a senior. While your child is the one filling out college applications, taking the tough classes, and answering the dreaded “Where are you going to college?” questions, you are the one up nights wondering if he or she is applying to the right places, working hard enough on the essays, and wondering how to handle the rejections that are part of the process.
Unfortunately, there is no formula for getting through this year. But I can share a few things that worked in our house.
As parents, the first thing we learned was to force ourselves to limit the college talk. Kids are inundated with college talk all day. They get it from teachers, advisors, friends, friends’ parents, relatives, neighbors—you get the point. Save such conversations for when there is something meaningful to discuss. They don’t want to talk about where their friends are applying, and they definitely don’t want to hear about what you read on the internet or saw on Facebook.
We also learned to limit the application nagging. We scheduled a time for our kid to “update” us on how the process was going. We normally planned this around our child’s meetings with Zach at Galin Education. If you do this, be specific about what you want from your updates so you don’t get vague responses, such as, “Everything’s going fine.” Try to make this a time when you are not distracted by other kids, work, phone, or anything else. Ask some questions and encourage your student to tell if you if there are ways you can help.
Finally, run interference for your child when you can. In our house, this meant updating the grandparents on the college process so that my kids didn’t have to repeat the same speech each time they spoke to one of them on the phone. We also gave them a little more “time off” from obligations. As a show of support and understanding for the amount of effort being spent on applying to college, they were allowed to leave some family events and social obligations a little early or skip them entirely on occasion.
Senior year is different for every kid. Stress, anticipation, and excitement ebb and flow throughout the weeks (for you as well). But as you know, those weeks will fly by and before you know it, your child will be picking up a cap and gown. And if you are like me, you will find yourself back in that place of nostalgia wondering, “How can my baby be graduating from high school?”