Do you hear it? Listen. It’s loud and coming from all directions. At the grocery store, high school football game, band competition, social gathering with friends. I call it “College Chatter.” It is coming from students and parents alike. Most of what we’re hearing is partially true but on the other hand, not so much. Yes, college can be competitive to get into. Yes, it is a busy process. Yes, it can be stressful. But, it doesn’t have to be that way.
Anxiety is overflowing around the college admissions process. Many of the stats we see online and on social media are about the top, most competitive colleges in our country. Ya know what though? Not every student is applying to these top colleges. This is a small percentage of students. We are losing focus on what is important in the college admissions process and that is finding the best fit for the student. Top tier colleges are fantastic, for the right student.
We have over 4000 colleges in our country and there are some great institutions you may have never heard of simply because of where you happen to live. (U.S. News and World Report only ranks 1400 of them too.) If you live on the east coast, you may have never heard of a school in the Midwest. It’s not because it’s not a good school. Rather it’s because marketing efforts are often spent in the Midwest where a strong alumni base likely resides. Most colleges and universities will certainly have students from all over the country. I use my alma mater for example, Butler University. (Go dawgs!) Yes, it’s in Indiana and I am from Indiana so I was familiar with it. But I had friends from Alabama, New Jersey, Texas, and Massachusetts. Say what?!?! Why did students from these places attend a school in Indiana? They did their research and found their specific academic program at Butler and they wanted to experience something different. I tell people all the time that attending college was an eye opener for me (on many levels) because I learned so much from my friends who weren’t from Indiana.
I digress. Back to why the “college chatter” is not always a good thing. This chatter about what it takes to get accepted, resume “boosters” and test scores is over the top! Don’t listen to the chatter! Pave your own path. Take the road less traveled. CHOOSE a more mindful approach. One might ask how do we do this? Here are some tips:
Be intentional. It’s a discipline but it is important. Plan ahead and be intentional about your plan. The better you plan, the more you know. The more you know, the more you’ll be prepared. This alleviates PANIC.
Ask yourself if the chatter is true. If you don’t know with 100% certainty that it is TRUE, don’t listen.
Trust your gut. If it doesn’t feel/sound right, likelihood that it isn’t. Go to the source to find the facts.
When things begin to feel overwhelming or stressful (and they will), take 3 deep breaths. Just breathe. Our breath is so powerful and it is with us all the time. Use it! It can calm your fluttering mind. And then trust that your preparation is enough. Just take one thing at a time.
Remind yourself (students too) that more is NOT always better. As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, colleges are looking for authenticity NOT a 12 page resume of activities that a student has only done one time. I tell students all the time to spend quality time with the activities that “feed your soul!”
Trust yourself and your student. If your child doesn’t get accepted into a TOP TIER college, will the student become a failure? (No!) Again, do you know this to be true or is it fear that is driving your anxiety? Or is it ego?
In closing, I just want to remind you that the college chatter is not always helpful or true. Choose your own path. A more mindful approach will allow the college selection process to be more peaceful—and joyful, even.
Here is a free phone wallpaper image to act as a reminder.