For Juniors and their parents who are just beginning the college process:
As parents we know that communication is critical. Somehow the college process can throw all we know right out the window. What happens when our children grow up and the ‘c’ (college) word is mentioned? We put our hopes & dreams on the line, we think about our own lives and what we would change if we could do it all again, we project our own aspirations into the equation – how can we not?
As a mom who has been there, I have some suggestions for sons & daughters, mothers & fathers
You have time to ponder, discern, research, dream.
Pick ONE day a week when you will discuss the college process (the remaining six days are off limits for college talk). As a family, make a pact and stick to it. If you know when you will be talking about college the whole family will have time to prepare. Younger siblings can run for the hills, parents can be more thoughtful about the questions, suggestions, impressions they want to share; and sons and daughters can steel themselves, listen, research, and articulate their own opinions and outlook.
Some weeks you may find there is nothing to talk about –and that’s OK! On other weeks conversations can last from 5 minutes to an hour; be flexible.
Some parents may want to keep a running list throughout the week as questions arise, articles are read & impressions are made so you can decide ahead of time what you want to discuss.
Some students will come each week with their own list, others won’t have anything on their mind and will let their parents take the lead – every child is different!
What do you talk about?
Parents should be honest about non-negotiable issues (distance from home, finances, etc).
Students should also be honest about their thoughts and feelings – yes, you can be honest!
Should you plan a college visit trip during spring vacation? If so, where will you go and why? Who is going to plan the trip and make arrangements?
What material is your high school providing? Is it helpful? Have you had a chance to look it over?
Have you heard from other parents and students who have ideas and suggestions that you want to discuss or discount?
There is no magic, but it seems like those families who don’t allow the college process to hijack their entire lives seem a bit happier in the long run.
If you have been through the college process before as a family, what suggestions do you have for families starting the college process for the first time?
If this is your first time through the college search, what questions do you have for other parents?