Grown and Flown

Time, time, time... Advice on Squeezing it All into the College Application Years

If experience has taught me anything about these waning years of hands-on parenting it is that there is very much a time and a place for parents to help. The area where parents can do their kids the greatest service is in time management.  Even the most mature teens would be hard pressed to recognize at the outset the huge demands on their time as the wind through the final years of high school.  Our role, I believe is not to do things for them, but to help them envision the process, its demands and how they will squeeze it all into their busy lives.

Here are some suggestions to help them on their way:

1. Help your child plan out their academic life

Sit down with your 9th grader or 10th grader and their high school course catalogue and plan backward from 12th grade. Together, think about what they hope to accomplish academically over their high school years. Help them pick the most challenging classes they hope to take in the subject areas they enjoy. Have them look at the prerequisites for these classes and the paths they are going to take to reach their goals. Granted interests change and so do school schedules, but but kids with a plan have goals for themselves.

2. Ask your child to select one activity in which they will try to excel.

The Parenting Process

We are very excited about a new recurring feature here on the blog! We will be joined monthly by a group of parents who will blog about their reality of the college application process. They'll be bringing you their firsthand experience of the emotional highs and lows, insight into the coping strategies that have worked for them, and some foresight -- or 20-20 hindsight -- into what to expect, and how to appropriately help, during the course of a college admission journey.

We may not always completely agree with what our parent bloggers have to say when it comes to an individual piece of advice. Our book is a comprehensive guide and as such, speaks to students and families on both ends of the spectrum and everywhere in between -- from first-generation students or those from under resourced schools to those who have been groomed for college since birth. Our guest bloggers are writing from their particular experience. But we believe that parents are hungry for true stories of treading the college application track as a family and that hearing the experience of fellow travelers is always helpful in what can be a stressful time.

Grown and Flown on College Visits

Thank you to Mary Dell Harrington and Lisa Endlich Heffernan of Grown and Flown for the shout-out for College Admission. Mary Dell is about to set out with her daughter on that rite of passage – the college road trip – and she’s sharing with readers the lessons she learned when she walked campuses in eight states five years ago with her son.  Our favorite message: It is an adventure. We believe that approached in the right way the college road trip can be a peak parenting experience -- it was for us.  Check out the rest of Mary Dell’s lessons learned here. And read more about college visits including how to prepare for hitting the road and questions for admission officers, tour guides and financial aid offices in Chapter 9, “College Visits,” in College Admission: From Application to Acceptance, Step by Step.

It seems that all the friends I got just got to come interrogate me...

Calling all parents, aunts, cousins, grandfathers, unrelated alumni and well-meaning -- or not -- neighbors…  Tis the season when college admission decisions are about to arrive! So inquiring minds want to know if students have heard from the colleges, what they've heard from the colleges, where they will be going to college… And you don't even have to be a senior to get the third degree. Inquiring minds want to know if 11th graders are looking at parents' alma maters, made captain in lacrosse or are taking the SAT or ACT.

Here's the answer: it's boring, annoying and anxiety-producing and it's not motivating for students to be questioned about their college application process. You -- and your extended family and friends -- need to sit back, take a deep breath and stop. Our fellow bloggers over at Grown and Flown -- parents of two 11th graders -- have a highly entertaining and heartfelt column today on the ten toxic questions everyone should avoid asking any young person engaged in applying to college. They bring just the right recipe of common sense and humor to the subject. Check it out here. And take the advice -- please!

(Special thanks to Lynyrd Skynyrd for the header...)