The college applications have all been submitted. Check. It is the end of a long road leading to this point. For students, and their parents, there may be a let-down. As relieved as you are to have this process finished, you and your student have been so focused on the college application process for so long that you’re not sure what to do now.
Can you really be expected to just stop everything and wait for the admission letters to arrive?
This is a good opportunity for you to model some behavior and attitudes for your student as you both shift from the high gear of getting applications ready to waiting for responses. Here are three behaviors that parents can model for students during this time.
For most students and their parents, the application season (which often begins as early as freshman or sophomore year of high school) can be a stressful time. Months, or even years, have been spent making sure that your student takes the appropriate classes, participates in activities, solicits recommendations, visits colleges, completes applications and essays. You’ve also been busy thinking about financing and completing what seems like an endless string of financial aid forms. Now you’re done – at least for a while.
Both you and your student may have almost forgotten what it’s like to function when you are not under such stress. This is a good time to help both yourself and your student find ways of balancing your lives. Find some new activities, or go back to some activities you’ve dropped. Spend some time just relaxing and doing nothing. Take up a new hobby. Try meditation or yoga.
Demonstrate for your student the importance of downtime and balance. Remind him that college decisions will not change because he worries about them. Show him how to let it go. Show him the importance of clearing your mind. Take a few weeks when you don’t even talk about college. This ability to deal with stress will be an important part of your student’s college success as he makes the transition to college life.
Refocus your energy
It takes a lot of work to make decisions and then apply to all of those colleges. Your student has not only been working hard, but has also been totally focused for months. He may not be sure what to do with all of that energy now that the applications are in.
Help your student find new and productive ways to redirect his energy. This may be a good time to put some more energy back into his schoolwork so that he can finish his final high school year with a strong GPA. It may be a good time to participate in community service (just for him, not for an application) or renew a friendship that has been ignored. Younger siblings may be feeling left out.
Your student can take advantage of the high energy he’s been using – but find a new outlet. What will you find to do with your own energy?
Mind the deadlines
College application deadlines loom large for high school seniors. They have deadlines for Early Action and Early Decision, deadlines for Regular Admission, deadlines for SAT or ACT tests, deadlines for requesting letters of recommendation. Once those deadlines are met, you and your student may never want to see another deadline again.
But there will always be deadlines. And senior year has more in store. Be aware of deadlines (financial aid forms? scholarship applications? high school senior activities?) that are still upcoming. Help your student stay on top of these continuing deadlines by modeling how you keep track of deadlines – and then shifting the responsibility to your student. This, too, will be an invaluable skill for your student once he needs to keep track of his own college deadlines.
The work of getting ready for freshman year of college continues long past the submission of those applications. But the prep work that needs to be done may be less clear to your student – especially during this wait time. If you model destressing, refocusing, and keeping track of deadlines for your student, he’ll be working on this college preparation even during what seems like downtime.