Your admission journey begins here, part 4

Posted on February 23rd, 2020 to College Admission

Welcome to this final installment of Your admission journey begins here. Before we can go any further I must share an important disclosure. This is the part of the series NOT geared toward students. Sorry students, but this one is for your parent(s), guardian(s), mentor(s) and family. Those trusted adults supporting you on this journey. Why you ask? Because as challenging as this experience is for you, it is equally difficult for those adults who are trying hard to support you. This process is designed for students to do the heavy lifting, pushing adults to the periphery. It prevents adults from doing the things they are most accustomed to doing: protecting and directing those in their charge. Admission scandals aside (and there are plenty over the course of time), no longer can you, an adult, influence the outcome of yet another important moment in your student’s life.

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Does this mean you throw your hands up in exasperation and say “oh well”? No. Does this mean you double down on your efforts to control and influence the outcome? Definitely not. Both efforts are futile. Remember this process moves the student front and center, so choosing one of those two options has the potential to fracture your relationship with your student and you could burn bridges with those professionals who actually have an influential role in the process (school counselors, admission counselors, etc.).

So what can you do? A lot of things! Continue to love and support your student. I know this may sound obvious or overly simplistic, but it’s true. This journey is going to bring a whole new level of challenge, stress and emotion into your student’s life. It may bring about feelings of inadequacy, insecurity and/or fear. Students often compare themselves against their peers and against assumed benchmarks of success, leading to self-doubt. Your student will need a constant reminder that they are loved, valued, and enough. Because they are!

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Another step you can take is to let your student teach you. This role reversal is a powerful way for you to learn about this experience from your student’s perspective. Act as if you are a student yourself. Start by asking questions. Ultimately you will learn about what your student is experiencing while learning about this process. Letting him/her/them teach you about the process is an effective way to understand what is happening. Sometimes approaching this as an opportunity to learn together can also be beneficial to your relationship.

This process forces adults into the backseat…not something you are used to. However, just because you are in the back doesn’t mean you are prevented from being supportive or offering guidance. Even someone in the backseat can help a driver navigate. You know your student well, so use that to your advantage. Have faith in the influence you have had on your students growth and development. Trust that your student is going to make the best decisions she/he/they can with the information available at this moment. Don’t let the fear of what “might be” override the possibility of what “could be”. The more ownership your student has over this decision the better experience you all will have.

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I imagine this all sounds and feels terrifying. The pressure of building to this moment only adds to the anxiety. You may begin to feel plagued by the useless game of “what if…” Please try and find the space where you can allow yourself to acknowledge your hard work. You have instilled solid values in your student; you have shared your lifetime’s worth of experience and wisdom; you have prepared your student for life beyond your home. Your student’s future is still unwritten, and that is both scary and comforting. In my experience students are often in a position where they can’t make a wrong choice, because the options and outcomes (even if undesirable) are good. That situation comes about as a result of your amazing nurturing, guidance, and love. Thank you for doing what you do and good luck!


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