College visits: get your high school student ready
I’ve been nudging Oldest for a couple of months now about college. Time to think about college, time to make sure you’re pursuing activities that are attractive to college admissions boards, time to think about your major, what kind of school you’d like to go to, what you want to be when you grow up.
That last one was a bit too much for him. He’s 16.
So, I backed off a little and said, “Let’s just think about whether you want to go somewhere a car ride away or an airplane ride away.”
Then we had the talk about which subjects he likes best (which I already knew because he’s told me he likes how in math and science there is one right answer and he doesn’t like how in language arts there is room for interpretation; it’s more subjective.)
I felt that was progress. It sparked a couple of conversations anyway.
A lot of his friends are already making college visits, and my son was ignoring the ever-growing stack of college brochures that have come in the mail, as well as not looking at any of the stuff he brought home from his college fair earlier this year. That was a bit much for me. I reached out to a friend who has already sent her two kids through college and she had some suggestions for me regarding taking the lead role.
So at my son’s parent-teacher conference open house (at his school you don’t schedule meetings, you wait in line to speak to the teachers for 10 minutes), my first stop was the guidance counselor.
She told me not to worry. She’ll schedule a meeting with both of us in December. This gave me great peace of mind.
Meanwhile, my son’s girlfriend suggested he might like a certain college, which was having an open house today.
All of a sudden he was motivated. I suggested he sign us up. Look it up online, register us, figure out what time we have to leave.
He did it all.
We made it to the open house in plenty of time and spent the whole day at the college, which turned out to be an extremely productive experience that gave us plenty to think about.
Here are my do’s and don’ts for getting your high school student ready for college visits
- Don’t ask what s/he wants to be when s/he grows up. How can a 16 or 17-year-old know this? (Maybe some do, like the girl on the student-life panel claimed: she has wanted to be a teacher since she was five.)
- Don’t compare your child to his/her friends if they are all going on visits and seem to have everything figured out already
- Don’t nag about the pile of college brochures stacked on the dining room table
- Do leverage peer recommendations, even if you don’t agree. It’s a data point and all you’re doing is looking
- Do discuss interests: have your student take an assessment or two like the ones above
- Do have patience. This advice is actually from my friend: “there may be some unconscious denial at play with the kids. By this, I mean that they love their high school lives and friends and the thought of saying goodbye to all of that, and facing a whole new circumstance is daunting.”
- Do take the lead role. Your child has no clue how to do any of this
- Do have fun!
P.S. It was an exhausting day!