At Simplify we help many students and their parents work through the college application process and we have been through it with our own teens. We understand how difficult it can seem and how you, as a parent, want to do everything you can to ensure your student gets into a top school. In today’s climate that often means spending all your time, energy, and money to make this possible.
But does it have to be this way? Is it good for you teenager to spend four years of their life working towards only one goal? The answer quite simply is no. There is another way. And this other way will force you to take a leap of faith and turn your back on the pressure that is all around you. As the parent you have to say to yourself and your teen, “It’s ok not to play the admissions game, it’s ok to do things differently, it’s ok to opt out of all the stress around us.”
The path I recommend to families is to put your student and their needs first. And to put your relationship with them first. Yes you want them to get into the best school so they are set up to succeed in life but there are many different paths that can lead to a successful start. You have so many options: community college, trade school, working, small LACs, state schools, a gap year. The choices are endless and what works for your student in the end may not be what you planned when you started on this journey.
Map out the next 4 years with your student. Encourage them to spend their free time working on their passions even if these pursuits aren’t Harvard worthy. Encourage them to get a job, to get their driver’s license, and hang out with friends. Have them work on life skills as much as school work. Let them find their way without you scheduling up every minute of their day. Because in the end, the skills they develop now will go a long way in helping them be successful adults.
The truth is that this is a hard choice to make. It is difficult to turn your back on the culture surrounding college admissions. It is difficult to say no when so many are still playing the game. But remember that colleges are starting to notice applicants that stand out from the rest. And one way to stand out today is to let your student’s quirkiness shine and to have a path that is unique from the thousands of other applications that an admission officer reads. So let your student decide how to spend their time. Let them choose the path that works best for them. Let them have the time to figure out just what that path will be.
And if you need help, remember Simplify is here for you. We love to work with families and teens to help them find their way. We will sit down with you and your teen and assess the situation. After this we will create a customized plan that works for your student. And we will support you as you transition from a traditional path to a more relaxed one. One that puts the student first, one in which the student is in the driver’s seat working toward their own goals. A path that will do so much to help them grow up into healthy and mature adults. One that will set them up for a successful and meaningful life.
Looking for inspiration today? Simplify has podcasts that will inspire you on your homeschool and college application journey.