Every parent of a high schooler knows that 11th grade is a tough year.. SAT/ACT prep, driver’s ed, AP classes, college visits… You’d think after a year with all of that, senior year would be a breeze.. well, guess what? It’s not!!!
Senior year brings on a whole new set of stressors. Your teen is now choosing the college she wants to attend and then applies there, plus 9 other “safety” schools.. just in case she doesn’t get in to her ED (Early Decision) choice. Don’t forget, there is also ED2. If your daughter doesn’t get into her first choice (she will find out sometime in mid-December) she can apply to a 2nd choice after that and learn her fate by mid-February. For those of you that are not at this point in your child’s life, an ED is binding except under certain circumstances such as a financial difficulty despite what (if any) scholarships/grants/loans your child is awarded. There are also schools that are rolling admission so your teen might find out about those acceptances prior to finding out about her ED choice. It is important that your teen, once she knows where she is going, notify the schools to which she also applied that she is pulling her application in order to give other students another open spot for their possible acceptance.
Starting mid-December many students, and their proud parents, start posting on social media. Some parents even post every time their child gets an acceptance letter. Many times people do this without naming the school, leaving all to wonder. While it is of course a proud moment and one everyone wants to share with the world, it can also be somewhat heartbreaking to someone else who did not get in to their first choice school. As adults we know that our bright, well educated children will go somewhere for college but the emotions still run high and many students feel the pain a few times over every time they get a notification that someone else got accepted to yet another school.
It is important that you, as the adult, have a conversation with your teen regarding their feelings around this issue. You yourself might also feel disappointed and not understand why so-and-so, who might have had a slightly higher GPA but not as many extra curricular activities, got in to your daughter’s top choice but your daughter did not. Despite your feelings of disappointment, it is important for you to be your child’s support, cheerleader, sounding board and feelings reflector (basically repeating to them how they are feeling..i.e. I know you are feeling disappointed right now.) Your teen is at the precarious age of figuring out her level of independence and although she might yell at you and tell you there is no way you understand how she feels, she really does need your love and support at this time, despite how much her words might hurt you at the time. Your baby is in pain and needs you to be there no matter what.
As the Facebook updates continue to come, another thing to note is that not all students are created equal. While many perform very well and receive stellar grades and high standardized test scores, there are others that are, well, average. Yes, I said it.. AVERAGE. It is not a dirty word, I promise. It does not condemn your child to the dungeons in the basement of some 3rd rate school in the middle of nowhere. Plenty of kids, in fact most kids, perform in the average range and that is okay, more than okay actually. There are many great schools for them to choose from and many of these students grow up to be very successful. They deserve the pride and accolades from others on their academic, as well as non-academic, achievements. Not everyone is a good student, which does not mean they are not smart or on the path to future success.
So when your “average” kid starts complaining about all the posts and tweets and snaps that people post about the Ivy league schools or schools that take 12% of their applicants, let them know they are not alone. On all standardized assessments 50% of people fall in the Average range. Your kids should know they are in very good company and can be whatever and whoever they want to be in life, despite being “average”.