We have Emma’s 11th grade advisement this morning.
Part of me is really excited about this. Em and I sat and made two college visit reservations yesterday. There are still three to go, which we will make in the spring, but for the moment, I feel good about where she is. ACT in December, SAT in January and then we will assess what else she might need to do at that point. Will she need to take the tests again? Most likely. Will she need to take any prep classes? The Common App opens in August, and she needs to be in the right place at that point. The good news is, I learned a lot with Lucy, and we are on it.
And, by all accounts, Lucy was ahead of the game. I will never forget sitting in the auditorium of the high school on February 14, 2012 (yes, Valentine’s Day of all days because where else would I rather be on Valentine’s Day?). It was Lucy’s junior year, and I was listening to a discussion and advice about the Hope Scholarship, the Zell Miller Scholarship, weighted and un-weighted GPA’s, FAFSA, and tons of other acronyms that I can’t even remember. What struck me was the looks on the faces of the other parents.
Outright fear and panic.
Most everyone in that auditorium was a senior parent. Because Lucy is the oldest of all mine and Candice’s kids, it was my responsibility to blaze the path of information so that we could both benefit. The notes I took that night were as much for Candice (who’s oldest was a freshman at the time) as they were for us. I remember seeing that fear and panic and thinking, wow, if I am more than a little overwhelmed, I can’t imagine what these parents are thinking, knowing that colleges want decision money by May.
Here it was February, remember.
It is never too early. That is my advice.
You know how old people, your parents mostly, tell you the day of your fortieth birthday how surprised they are that you are forty? Or thirty-five, or whatever? And how quickly it goes? And then you nod and smile, knowing it is an “old person thing to say,” but then, quite suddenly, find yourself with a sophomore or junior in high school and two more coming up fast behind.
Do you remember how quickly your own college years went by? Of course you do, we all spend our twenties and thirties saying, “If I could go back and do it again, knowing what I know now, I would …” Well, your kids’ high school and college years go by even faster.
So here’s my advice: start early. Visit colleges when they are sophomores. Take the SAT and ACT when they are freshman, or eight graders, or seventh graders even. Remove the mystery and the fear. Give them a goal. Let them hear from the schools themselves in the 90 minute discussions what it takes to get it. Because, I’ll be perfectly honest, your kids won’t hear a word you’re saying when you bring it up … they don’t listen to you when you ask them to load the dishwasher, do they? Parents know nothing. It is a fact … that is, until the child in question is out in her own and needs to know how to pay a bill online. Or buy a house or a car. Let the colleges tell the kids what to expect.
Help them set their goals by exposing them now to life beyond high school and what it will take for them to get there. It doesn’t necessarily make it any less stressful, but it does help take away the panic, I promise.