Parents inevitably share the stress of the college application process (sometimes you may unwittingly be the source of it, but that's a different blog entry).
When the SAT scores don't go up as much as you'd hoped or when the C on the geometry test comes home, parents feel that stress. When you hear all your friends talking about how hard it is for kids to get into college today, you take on that stress. The stakes feel so high that the passage from high school to college has become a something of a bootcamp that kids and parents just hope to survive.
Parents, if you feel yourself wondering if it really needs to be this hard (the answer is "No," by the way), here's an exercise that might help. Ask yourself these ten questions.
1. If you got together tonight with your old high school friends, what stories would you likely reminisce over?
2. Same question, but with your college friends.
3. What's the most irresponsible thing you did back in high school or college, the kind of thing that seems a world away from your responsible, parental self today?
4. In what class(s) did you struggle in the most?
5. What was your most colossal failure in high school and in college?
6. What was the most fun you remember having in high school or college (no surprise, really, if it's the same as your answer to #3).
7. What's something you did in high school or college (or both) that you would be embarrassed to admit to your kids today?
8. If you could re-live one week of your high school years, what week would you relive?
9. Same question as #8, but for your college years.
You're inevitably conjuring up memories of fun, frivolity, and failure. And you can hopefully laugh about most or all of them because, after all, you were a kid. We all were at one time. And nobody has an adult's mindset at age 16 or 18 or 22. Part of being a kid means doing things that you laugh about once you're a responsible adult.
So, here's my final question.
You turned out OK after just being a kid and not worrying quite so much about test scores and whether or not an Ivy League school would accept you. What makes you think your kids won't, too?