How can I help my kid manage the stress of the application process?
Support your child’s burgeoning decision-making abilities by listening. The college applications process offers ample opportunities to foster discernment. For example, let your junior choose the destination of the family’s first college trip.
2. Limit “cocktail conversation”
Avoid talking about your child’s college process with family and friends. Your conversation will inevitably reach your son or daughter and break an important trust. Losing open communication will heighten everyone’s stress.
3. It’s not personal; it’s just that it’s personal
Don’t expect your child to share an essay or personal statement with you. Insuring his or her ownership of the process is paramount to limiting stress. If you can’t bear a typo, have your teen entrust another adult to proofread materials.
4. Temper your enthusiasm for “super-reach” schools
It’s easy to love Princeton, but with an admission rate consistently below 10 percent, no one is likely to earn admission to Princeton. A solid admission process is built with a balanced list of reach (possible, but not likely), middle (50/50) and foundation (quite likely) schools. Favor foundation, middle and reach schools equitably.
5. Start early, but not too early
Encourage your child’s academic motivation and extracurricular involvement beginning in ninth grade. Admission committees will review information from freshman year. However, hold off on specific college search and application conversations until junior year to avoid burnout.