Every year, the number of readers subscribed to my blog drops sharply after May 1. That’s exactly how it should be. When seniors decide where they’re going to college, there’s not much left to talk about with your counselor or to read about on a blog like mine. Even the college counselors understand that every year, a portion of our constituency retires and moves on.
For the last two years, I’ve posted the same goodbye to graduates after the May 1 deadline by which seniors must commit to their chosen colleges. And it’s always one of my most read and shared posts. So I’ve copied it again below. For those of you who will soon be off to college (or parents who will soon be sending your college freshman), I hope you’ll take the time to read it so I can say goodbye, good luck, and thank you.
Goodbye to graduates
Reposted from May 2015
Today is graduation day for a lot of my blog readers. Not the official high school graduation, but, May 1, the final day for seniors to decide where they’ll be attending college next fall. When a student has made that decision or a parent finally knows the college fate of their last one to leave the nest, there’s no need to come back tomorrow for my advice about how to pick colleges or write the essay or maintain your sanity in what’s become an unnecessarily stressful process.
So, for those of you who will be moving on, here are my parting words.
First, congratulations. Whether or not you’re attending your first-choice school, you should celebrate today. You’re going to college. This is a big deal, one that many of you worked incredibly hard for. Take a second to enjoy it before you rush to think about what’s next. The stress, the applications, the waiting and wondering—it’s all over. Put the college sweatshirt on. This is the good stuff now.
Second, remember that you won’t get to do a first draft of college. This is it. You get four years. So really lean into them. Learn as much as you can. Grow as much as you can. Have as much fun as you can. Don’t be that person who looks back on college and wishes you’d done more to enjoy and benefit from it. Your college can offer all the opportunities and benefits you’d hoped for, but you’ll need to take advantage of them.
Take the time to thank your parents. If they’ve been driving you crazy and you can’t wait to get out of the house, thank them anyway. Parenting is one of the hardest jobs there is. I didn’t get that until I became a parent myself, and you probably won’t, either. For now, just remember that while you may be a maturing adult now who’s ready to be out on your own, for most of your life you literally and figuratively could not have survived without your parents. Thank them now and you’ll be really proud of your maturity when you look back on this act years later. Really, trust me on this.
Parents, congratulations to you, too. You’re officially sending your kid to college. One of the worst symptoms of college stress is that too few parents feel compelled to celebrate that milestone the way your parents did (or would have). But this is as big a deal today as it was in my day, your day, and every day before that. Do a parental high-five and soak this in.
Also, if your kids aren’t being all that nice and appreciative now, remember how little you knew at 18. They haven’t been on the planet that long. College and life will go a long way to mending this.
Remember that you get to demand a certain level of collegiate performance from your student, especially if you’re paying the bill. But consider demanding it in ways that aren’t measured just in GPAs and impressive accomplishments. You might consider bookmarking these past posts and emailing them to your kids after their first week of college.
And for everyone, I have a favor to ask.
I started writing this blog every day in 2009 because I wanted families to enjoy the process that you’ve just finished. If you’ve read and benefitted from what I share here, please pass it along to the next crop of college-goers. Tell a younger friend about it. Share it with a parent who’s about to go through this with their own son or daughter. Or just forward a particular post that really helped you. Those of us who are trying to change college admissions have to stick together, so when you move on, I need to add new members to the band.
And finally, thank you for reading. It’s a privilege for me to be able to do this, and I hope it helped you enjoy your ride to college a little more.
Good luck, and have a great time in college.