Inside: This post about picking the right college for your teen is republished from Lisa McLaughlin’s Facebook page, The College Conversation. She is a college admissions consultant with nearly two decades of experience and a mom to a teen
I’m in the weeds guiding my own teenager through this college madness.
I’m not going to pretend that it’s perfect around here, because it’s not; parenting is hard work!
But, I have to tell you that (so far), it’s not what’s going on inside my home that’s the problem.
It’s the noise my daughter constantly needs to block out that’s causing the spin, especially when it comes to picking a college.
I’m obviously used to it. But good Gawd, it’s getting louder.
Because she’s a high school junior and everyone has an opinion.
As a college education consultant, this is what’s on my heart.
Just because you or your teen haven’t heard of a school, doesn’t mean it’s not any “good.”
Just because a college is highly selective doesn’t make it a better fit.
And even if you have a high-achieving student, your teen may not want to attend a more selective college.
A “good” school is one that’s right for YOUR teen and YOUR family.
Everything else is subjective nonsense.
I write this for parents as a reminder.
But frankly, it is more like a plea.
I am begging adults to pretty please with a cherry on top stop seeding doubt about the choices teens are making (mine included)! Picking the right college is only dependent on what’s right for your family.
But especially if those choices are well-informed and right for your child.
We need to stop judging the way other families are selecting a college.
Here’s a small taste of the judgment both my daughter and I have faced recently. Maybe some of this sounds familiar?
Before visiting a public university in Northern Washington last summer, we got the “haven’t heard of it, iss it any good?” comments.
When some parents, teachers, and peers hear that her first choice is what I call a “very good bet” due to its 80% acceptance rate, they tell us that she can “do better” by going to a more selective school.
One of her teachers, whom she greatly respects, attempted to seed some major doubt in her choices when he flat out said, “You’re not going to like it there. Why would you choose a school in the rain?!”
We’ve confidently decided on a list of four schools with varying levels of selectivity–two are good bets that she LOVES.
When she shared that list with a good friend’s dad, his response was: “Just four? You better apply to more! That’s not enough!”
I guarantee she has well-meaning friends and AP teachers that don’t understand why the bulk of her list contains less-selective colleges.
“Why would you work so hard just to go THERE?” people ask.
Come on folks…this is crazy-making.
It is not lost on me that she is fortunate to have me, a college admissions counselor, in her corner.
But the message she is getting outside of this home loudly screams:
“You are not enough.
You aren’t doing enough.
You aren’t pushing yourself enough.
You aren’t pushing yourself enough.
You need to DO more to BE the best.”
I am grateful these messages aren’t sticking to her.
She’s doing fine and laughs off the unsolicited advice most of the time.
But, enough is enough. It’s up to us to help stop this nonsense.
Picking the right college is personal.
We can start by taking an honest look at how we individually measure success for ourselves and for our teens. (You may also like to read: This Is One of the Many Reasons Our Teens Are So Stressed And What You Can Do About It)
We can come clean about the reality that a lot of college admissions angst stems from the lies we are told about what makes a college “good.”
And my goodness, we can take the pressure OFF our teens & each other by being mindful of this very important fact:
College admission decisions are intimately personal.
We never really know the whole story behind those decisions (even the ones our friends are making).
You know your child best. Be confident in that truth.
Help them cut the noise.
And take the pressure off.
Lisa McLaughlin, M.Ed., a college admissions strategist with more than 27 years of experience is the creator of The Admissions Formula, a 10 week college admissions course for parents of 8th-11th graders. She is determined to calm down the mania that has become college admission & remove anxiety & worry from the process. Ready to cut the noise? Grab Lisa’s FREE 5-part college admission video series “Taking The Pressure Off.”