There’s no getting around it, we’re about to head into the official start of the application season. While some college applications have been online since July 1st, the launch of the Common App on August 1st signifies the beginning of the season, much the same way Memorial Day and Labor Day mark the beginning and end of summer.
If your teen is still not quite ready to begin and wants to enjoy a few more weeks of summer – I get it. Besides the thought of “all that work”, there’s the “this is about to get real” part that can keep them from jumping in and beginning the process.
It's helpful to keep in mind that this IS a process, in the true definition of the word. This “series of steps taken to achieve a particular end” will include times when there is a flurry of activity and times when it may feel like things have come to a standstill. It is in those moments between the series of steps where there is tremendous opportunity for growth.
Like the student who was excitedly applying to colleges across the country and found his motivation had come to an unexpected screeching halt. Pausing to consider “why” that happened helped him realize that he was pretty nervous about leaving home. He decided to add in a few more colleges that were closer to home and the excitement returned. Recognizing his fear combined with having options both near and far gave him the freedom and the confidence to make the choice that felt right to him when the time came.
Or the student who was meeting due dates for all of his applications but left one of them to the very last minute. It can be frustrating to watch this happen. The initial impulse is to focus on “what” needs to be done instead of “why” it isn't getting done, but it’s the “why” that unlocks the magic. That student had huge doubts about the ultra competitive environment of that particular college and how that contrasted with her values of collaboration and connectedness. Taking that time to reflect ended in her choosing not to apply. Most important, it strengthened her ability to trust herself when it came to making decisions about her future.
What often gets forgotten in the midst of the admissions frenzy is how much bigger this is than sending in applications and receiving results. It’s one of the first decisions that your teen is making about their future – which is both exciting and terrifying at the same time. Each series of steps along the way is an opportunity for them to not only execute the process but also learn to trust in their ability to execute the process, which helps them learn to trust themselves.