Parental investment in college applications
It is not unusual for parents to find themselves too invested in the college application process. The cocktail parties and PTA meetings can become events filled with “one up manship”. It may not be unusual, but it is certainly best to remember that the most important issue for the success of your child in college is “fit” and it doesn’t matter where Ralph and Ellen’s children are applying. Remember that this is your child’s time to be in the spotlight, and your student needs to drive the college application process. Be calm, be supportive, and remember that this process is not about you, it is about your child.
I have a list of behaviors that are common, but inappropriate. Consider these responses to:
1. There are always parents who ask you how your child scored on the ACT or SAT, or the PSAT, or want to know their GPA. You do not have to answer this question, in fact it is a very inconsiderate question to ask. Just say your student did well and you are pleased. If they push, you have my permission to tell them they are behaving inappropriately!
2. Remember that parents love to exaggerate their children’s accomplishments. Ever seen Dana Carvey’s comedy special “Squatting Monkeys Tell No Lies”? He does a hilarious routine regarding these “over the top parents” (check it out!). Don’t get into a competition, just smile and say “I’m sure you are very proud”.
3. Parents love to talk about the impressive and selective schools their child is applying to. If they ask you where “you” are applying, just say your student is considering many wonderful institutions. And do not be intimidated by all the “name brand” schools these parents reel off. As I said, it is “fit” that counts, not the glitz of the name. (and anyone can apply anywhere. so what?)
Enjoy this time with your student, and don’t worry about other parents. It is not keep up with the Joneses, it is about your student making good choices.