My daughter is a senior in high school. *Sigh*
Those of you who have a senior as well, or who have older children, know why I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed, sad, anxious, and stressed these days.
I’ve been through this before, with my son, and yet that doesn’t really matter. I will be going through this again in four years with another daughter, and yet it will still be overwhelming, stressful and sad.
What is “this” you ask? Well, if you must ask then you obviously don’t have a child old enough to be applying to college!
It’s not just the application process that is so overwhelming (although trying to gather and organize the transcripts, SAT scores, letters of recommendations, essays and applications can cause a bit of distress, to say the least).
It’s not just the idea that my daughter will be graduating in nine short months and embarking on a whole new life without me that makes me sad (although coming to the realization that my middle child, the always-smiling, easy-going one, will be moving on to a whole new world with new friends, new opportunities and new experiences does cause me to catch my breath).
And it’s not just the thought of the plethora of bills, tuition payments, shopping excursions and fees that make me anxious (although I am not looking forward to the Bed, Bath & Beyond trip in August to pick up all those necessities, that will cost me the equivalent of one semester’s tuition payment and will come home with me in the car because “who knew the dorm room was so small.”)
No, while all those issues are on my mind and causing me some anxiety and sleepless nights (okay, perhaps more than some), the biggest stress in my life right now is other parents!
Yes, I’m talking to all you parents and well-intentioned adults who just love to talk all about the college application process.
“Ohhhhh, you have a senior.” (Yes. What gave it away? Perhaps the fact that I just told you that, and was not smiling when I said it!)
“What an exciting time for you all!” (Exciting? If you think screaming matches, tears and sleepless nights are exciting, then yes, I guess it is! And my daughter isn’t exactly fired up either!)
“Have you looked at any schools yet?” (Looked at schools? Wow, there’s an idea. I hadn’t thought of that. We were hoping to just close our eyes and point to a school on the map.)
“I’ve heard Ivy League school 1, 2 and 3 are good schools.” (Really? I hadn’t heard that. Well, we’d rather save some money and go to Just-as-Good State Schools 1, 2 and 3.)
“What schools are you looking at?” (Like I’m going to tell you, so you can either: 1 – tell me what a “party” school it is; 2 – tell me how your niece hated that school; 3 – repeatedly ask me if she got in to that school; and/or 4 – shake your head in sympathy if she doesn’t get into that school.)
“My son/daughter (niece/nephew; grandson/granddaughter) has looked at 25 schools, applied to 15 and has been accepted to 10!” (Well good for him/her! Now I can sleep at night!)
We’ve taken to avoiding cocktail parties and sitting by ourselves at sporting events. We tend to smile and nod when college talk comes up, making vague responses such as “Really?” “Good for them!” and “We’re still looking.”
Our standard response when we’re asked about colleges: “There’s a school out there for everyone.”
Now, if it sounds like I’m a bit jaded, you’re right! I was at a party a few years ago when one woman repeatedly pestered a mom about her son, asking her no less than 10 times (I counted) where her son was applying to college. Despite such responses as “He hasn’t decided yet” and “We’re looking around,” this woman would not give up.
Why? Why do we feel the need to pry? It was obvious that this woman did not want to talk about colleges for whatever reason. Why don’t people get the hint?
My son was at a Christmas party during his senior year of high school There was a large group of other kids, parents, neighbors and various random adults there, gathered to celebrate the holiday season.
He told me that an older woman approached his group of friends and asked them where they were going to college. She then proceeded to pick apart each school mentioned, telling them what was good and/or bad with each choice.
Is this necessary? And is it anyone else’s business? Something my mom taught me comes to mind: “If you have nothing nice to say, don’t say anything at all!”
These students are stressed enough (and so are their parents)! If you love(d) the whole college application process, good for you! I’m happy for you (and a little jealous)!
But I beg you, please be aware that not everyone is as happy or excited as you are. Some of us are a bit overwhelmed and anxious about the whole process. We’re concerned about getting into a school, picking the right school, and paying for that school.
If you find yourself talking to a high school senior, or parent of a senior, by all means ask how it is going. You can tell right away if that person wants to talk about it further. Take the hint!
And now, I’m off to College Night (in dark glasses and a baseball cap).
And so it begins…