In last month’s newsletter, I mentioned that I would address college admissions notifications in this edition. A condensed version of this article would simply read like this:

“Be happy for your child and others. Release judgment, be kind, and ensure your child makes the choice which he feels is a good fit.”

Seriously, that’s it!  If these simple suggestions were followed, there would be much less hand-wringing, tears, and anxiety during this process.  Sadly, many college admission letters are met with judgments and disappointment. Let’s talk about that.

As a parent of two boys who has gone through college admissions, I have learned many lessons that I wish I had known years ago!  I am going to take this opportunity to share with you some insights and experiences.


First of all, a good fit is important. Many students are intuitively aware that they belong in either a small liberal arts school, a big state school, an urban environment or a more rural one. For many reasons, students don’t always enroll in the school they feel is a good fit for them. Parental pressures, social pressures, or friend pressures all interfere. So, listen, truly listen, to what your child has to say. It’s about them, not about you. That sounds harsh, but it’s true. At the same time, even though it seems like a particular school is perfect, it may not be what was expected. It usually is possible to transfer if the school turns out to not be a good choice. That is perfectly acceptable and many times, a good option. Unless the situation is dire, it’s usually a good idea to wait to transfer after the freshman year as the first semester is a necessary adjustment period for the college freshman.


Be happy for your child, your grandchild, your friend’s child, or your friend. Release what your opinion of what a “good” school is. Sadly, many students encounter judgment from others regarding their choice of schools despite one school not necessarily being better than another. Consider the student’s feelings. I have encountered many college seniors whose choices were demeaned by adults and even their friends. Again, it’s their choice. Be gracious and offer your congratulations.


As a first time parent of a high school junior, I really had no idea about the college application process. I graduated many years ago, and believe me, the application process was completely different and much more intense for my son than it was for me in the ’70s. As a result, I made many mistakes and this created pressure for him during this time. To make things worse, I surrounded myself with a group of parents at his school who were very involved and even frantic about the application process. Take inventory of what or who might be emotionally draining you. Is it other parents who seem competitive or negative? Friends or relatives who use comparison or brag too much?  This doesn’t have to be an anxiety-filled process. Distance your self from what or who is unhelpful and find support with like-minded friends.

I was much more familiar with the process three years later when my second son was a junior, and I allowed him to take control of the situation. I surrounded myself with more easy-going and supportive parents who allowed their children to have more ownership in applications and college selection. It was a much better experience for all of us!


As much as possible, do your best to de-stress the situation. Avoid peppering your child each and every hour with questions. If he receives good news, then a celebration is in order! On the other hand, if he does not receive an offer from his favorite school your reaction is important. First of all, let him know that you understand his disappointment. Also, it’s important to emphasize that this decision is in no way an indicator of his worth. The manner in which colleges accept or do not accept students is not predictable. This does not define him! This is instead an opportunity to look at what other options and possibilities are available to him. This is a time for patience and understanding.


It is important that you role model that everything is going to be ok. There will be stress, excitement, and anxiety. That is all part of the process! Your ability to handle the upcoming months with confidence, a sense of humor, and love is important as this next transition occurs.


Many of the difficult issues surrounding the college application process can be avoided with good planning and communication. This begins in the sophomore and junior years.

Help your student enter the application process with confidence! Coaching is perfect for helping students prepare for college tours, applications, stress, and decision making. Parents, want to learn how to support your child through the process, decrease stress and anxiety? Call Arlene for coaching at 713.922.8083.

Leave a Reply