Most every conversation in our house these days revolves around college – where to apply, visiting schools, the actual application, sending scores etc. It is enough to make your head spin. Let’s face it – it has been a L O N G time since I applied to college and I am here to tell you things have changed.
The stress level for a high school senior is so great and it impacts the entire family. Applying to college is a hyper-competitive, ever-escalating frenzy. The combination of everything that has to be done in the life of a senior is a formula suited for the men in white coats. Let’s face it – the college application process is essentially the first step in the adult world of deadlines, acceptance and rejection. The harrowing journey of college planning can shake both parents and students to the core.
Recently I found out about a documentary called Race to Nowhere that examines how students are pushed to the brink and looks for ways to “best prepare the youth of America to become healthy, bright, contributing and leading citizens.” So many students today are basing their entire life on one letter and it is causing stress-related illness, depression and burnout.
For me, the difficulty of being a parent at this stage is watching my child under so much self-imposed pressure. The most important thing I can tell Mary Beth is that I know who she is as a person and that she will succeed at any university. It may sound cliche to say everything happens for a reason, but it does. I have faith she will end up where she is supposed to be and where she is most comfortable.
In an older New York Times article Tara Parker-Pope interviews a guidance counselor who has a terrific philosophy:
At Princeton High School in New Jersey, Patti Lieberman, a guidance counselor, says she emphasizes stories of real students who won better opportunities — like research grants and White House internships — after going to slightly less competitive schools. “We try to teach them, ‘Bloom where you are planted,’ ” she says.
“Bloom where you are planted.” What a wonderful phrase for a high school senior to remember.
As Jay Mathews, Education Columnist for the Washington Post said, “Repeat this phrase every day: In America, people succeed because of the quality of their character, not the notoriety of their college.” Amen Jay!
The Three Gals are waiting on the acceptance letter(s) so we can begin the process of dorm shopping and reduce the stress in our household.