submitted by Christine Trainer Haas, PhD, Senior Staff Psychologist, MK Plus, mkplusnewtown.com
Many parents are observing their students experience the intense, competitive, and grueling college application process. Today students’ identities and sense of self-worth appear more connected to where they are accepted or choose to attend. As your students anxiously await hearing admission decisions you experience a parallel process that often leaves you feeling powerless to ease their angst. Here are some thoughts to help you navigate:
*Mirror Confidence – Your student is going to experience a series of self-doubts. “Did I select the right colleges to apply to? Should I have taken the SATs one more time?” Refocus on the knowns – their high school resume and work ethic, and steer away from the unknowns. Ground yourself in your student’s specific strengths independent from outcomes. You want your student to hold their self-value as an individual separate from their accomplishment of where they are accepted.
*Reflect Perspective – Competition is inherent in this grueling process. Your student is constantly exposed to conversations about who was accepted & where. Your goal is to listen and validate their fears of rejection, without reinforcing them – “I know how hard it is not knowing yet. What have you thought about doing to steer yourself away from these conversations?” A variety of reasons exist why some students hear back before others, and why a particular student gets accepted into a particular school. Refocus away from comparison to other students and toward your student’s strengths and uniqueness.
*Stay Present – Once the send button has been hit, let your minds rest. Remind yourself and your student that worrying about acceptances prevents them from being in the here & now. Both of you have worked hard and deserve to enjoy their senior year. You don’t want them or you to be so focused on the future and “what ifs,” that you miss these moments.