Your happy, healthy high school senior is doing great. Over the past 12-13 years, their grades are always near the top of their class, they have been active in athletic and/or academic competitions, they eagerly participated in community service initiatives and have melted your heart with their understanding of the importance of giving back. They are not perfect, but it wouldn’t take much to get there. But recently, something has begun to upset the tranquility in your child-rearing Garden of Eden.
Every time you ask about anything college-related, the questions are met with evasive maneuvers. At first, you wrote it off to maintaining that competitive GPA or studying for AP, ACT or SAT exams or endless practices for something or other. Now, you are not so sure.
As your questions have grown more serious and you insist that the evasive child sit down and answer them, you discover that the process of applying to college has not yet begun. In your frenzy to make sure this outstanding student doesn’t have to attend whatever college will take them or the unspeakable happen; they have to settle for community college! You gather information from other parents, counselors, friends, family and even look into hiring someone to speed the process along.
Every conversation with your high school senior begins to center around favorite colleges, essays and applications. Your engine is revving as you tear toward the finish line of completed applications and your child doesn’t seem to have gotten out of neutral. What’s going on?
Take your foot off the accelerator and ask your child to talk to you about what they are thinking. Ask about their thoughts for life after high school and listen. You have raised this person from an infant to a young adult. In less than a year, they will have to begin learning what it means to be independent. That means making most of their own decisions.
It has happened only about one percent of the time, but I have had clients who are absolutely opposed to attending college. They play along with plans their parents make and at the end, somehow fail to get all the required documents submitted or don’t hit the submit button on a completed application or any number of other details that will result in a rejection letter.
Don’t raise a saboteur in your home. Ask college-related questions early and often then listen to the answers. That’s the only way you will know for sure what your kids really want.