Parenting Through the college Process

Where is your daughter applying to college: A Tragicomedy

Parents, check out "Where is Your Daughter Applying to College?" -- an object lesson in how NOT to behave. Or perhaps some consolation for that conversation you yourself had last Tuesday. In any case, we hope you laugh along with us at the girl who "did everything herself" -- along with an SAT tutor, private guidance counselor, and time management consultant. Really, this thing doesn't miss one urban myth or opportunity for covert competitiveness. And we all know there are many such opportunities junior and senior year!

Seriously, parents, it's totally appropriate to share your feelings and concerns with your friends, but choose one or two close friends who know your son or daughter and have these conversations with them -- and politely excuse yourself when sidewalk talk becomes more confrontation than conversation. You can say, "You know, I just don't think talking about things like this is good for our kids. It really contributes to their anxiety." Or as Rosalind Wiseman, author of Queen Bee Mom and Kingpin Dads, further suggests: "You can make a joke of it. 'Hey, c’mon, we’re really not going to be those parents, are we?' and then talk about something like your favorite restaurant. Have some backup conversation in mind, ready to go."




Essays, Smack-Talking Siblings and The Deadline Parents Face in the College Admission Process

We are pleased to welcome Jane Kulow today as a regular guest, writing on parenting through the college admission process. Kulow's personal blog, Dr. StrangeCollege or, How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Journey, covers the ebb and flow of the path to college for her three children, dubbed the Mod Squad. As Jane describes it, "this is what we did, what we saw, what we laughed about, and what I’ve read (and asked others in the house to read) along the way." We're delighted she will be an eloquent fellow traveler here, sharing adventures and insights as her -- and your -- children head off toward the higher halls of academe.

We are parents of a high school senior and we are in the midst of college application season.

Our oldest child worked his way through applications two years ago, acquainting us with the rhythms of deadlines and the components of transcripts, tests, essays, and recommendations.

Yet, even within one household, each student’s specific experience—in college prep coursework and activities and in his or her approach to the application itself—makes this process as singular as the student.

My husband describes the application process as complex project management. The student bears the responsibility for the content of the application; we can teach project management and help make sure not a single element of the project gets missed.

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.