Senior Year – Buckle Up!
by Cindy Turner, College Counselor
Keep your hands inside the vehicle, fasten your seatbelt, and hang on tight! Senior year is not for the faint of heart. A thrilling acceptance one day may be crushed by painful rejection the next. Guilt and insecurity invade a friendship when one friend gets in and the other does not. Parents worry as much about how this kid will figure out laundry and budgeting next year as they worry about paying the tuition bill. Pride and joy in their students’ accomplishments can be mixed with sadness, knowing a new chapter is about to begin. How do we get through this year in one piece? Buy extra Kleenex. Find people you can talk to. Be incredibly patient with each other. And keep the lines of communication open.
Whatever happens this year, you will remember it. To make those memories good ones, here are some tips –
- Please do not talk about college applications every day. This can make students more anxious and upset. They are already thinking about it every day, even if they don’t seem to be. Find a time each week to check in with them about how the application process is going, and offer to help if they ask.
- Honor the risk your student is taking each time he or she submits an application. This is no easy task! They are making themselves vulnerable to rejection, a terrifying feeling for any of us. It can be scarier than asking someone to prom or interviewing for a job. Applying to college takes courage and confidence. Let your student know you understand by sharing times you have put yourself out there, unsure of the outcome. Remind them of your unconditional acceptance of them, no matter what these colleges decide.
- Some students deal with the conflicting emotions of senior year (excitement/fear) by acting out at home. Typically sweet kids can become rude to parents and siblings as they prepare to move out, sometimes saying later that not getting along with their family made it easier to leave them. Be patient if this happens, and try to get to the core of what is going on.
- Ask for assistance from your school counselors if you need help figuring out anything around the college application and decision process. So much anxiety can come from not understanding something or worrying about doing it right. We are here to help, so please ask!
- Be nice to your parents! This is a life event for them too, not just for you. They’ve probably been thinking about this longer than you have, and they want it to go well just as much as you do. They may nag you about deadlines and talk about college way too often, but all that comes out of love. Remember that when you start to get frustrated with them. They are so very excited for you, but they’re also going to miss you more than they will ever say. So make this year a happy time with them. They’ve earned it!
- Not only are you dealing with your own emotions around college applications and leaving home, you are also around friends all day who are feeling the same way! Help each other through this, be patient, and remember things will settle down soon.
- You may not get into every college you apply to. And it will hurt. It’s okay to be sad for a while. Then you need to keep going and get excited about the places where you do get in. Remember that you are exceptionally fortunate to have this chance to go to college. Appreciate that gift, and approach this new experience with gratitude, wherever you end up going.
Your CSD counselors are so excited for each of you on this journey. You have worked hard, and you are now in the process of determining that next best fit for your educational path. Celebrate your unique path as you figure it out over the coming months. And we look forward to celebrating your final decisions with you!