Of all my identities, father of three (and husband) are the most important ones. Like most parents, I feel more stressed in relation to my children’s well being than my own. Despite my decades providing college counseling, I, too, felt stress (and feel stress with my youngest) in relation to the college process.
The college process is horribly stressful to most parents and most students, particularly in affluent communities like the Connecticut suburbs. Taking the SATs/ACTs, writing college essays and applications, worrying about rejections and… the big elephant in the room…your baby is moving away. Terrible stuff.
Nonetheless, if this is your family’s biggest challenge, then consider yourself beyond lucky.
I read enough history and anthropology to bore anyone. But it does help provide perspective.
Things Have Turned Out Well
Congratulations and good fortune are in order. Your child did well enough in school, was sufficiently motivated, has good character and so forth to be college bound. There are countless families that we’ve counseled in the last few years who are wondering if it makes sense to send their child to college because of poor grades, work habits, and character. And, yes, if we look around the world and throughout history, we are lucky if the biggest problem we face for our children is getting through the college process.
College Is Great
Ok… college has not been great during Covid. This is a big problem for many reasons. But the largest might be that it doesn’t feel that you’ll be sending them to something great. But let’s hope the pandemic will be behind us in the fall of 2022.
If that’s the case, you are sending your child to the young adult version of Disney World. Would you go back to college? Of course! Tremendous freedom. Limited real world responsibility. Great opportunities to learn, meet new people, have new experiences, all in a reasonably controlled environment (at least compared to moving to New York or Boston at 18).
Considering all that affects most families throughout the world, and all that did affect families in the past, we parents of college bound students are really lucky. Any family that has gone through a real challenge like a death in the family or a bitter divorce or extended financial problems knows real problems from contrived ones.
The college process is a problem of abundance. You are very lucky to have such a problem.