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How to Get Through Applications Without Screwing Up Parent-Child Relationship?

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Replies to: How to Get Through Applications Without Screwing Up Parent-Child Relationship?

  • Chocolate-TacoChocolate-Taco Registered User Posts: 40 Junior Member
    @gclsports Did you find a way forward with your son? A decade ago, I was that son. My Mom helped me by laying out clearly and early what she would and would not do. She said, "I am available to edit and help you with your essays provided you produce a draft by "X" date and respond to my feedback, which I give to help you, not critize you."

    She also told me, "We will aid you with "$X" amount of aid for college, and will be happy to help you plan ahead to cover your costs."

    Most importantly, she told me, "I've worked hard to give you the opportunity to go to college, but it is your choice as an adult. If you choose another path, or take a gap year, I will still love and support you."

    I went to college, graduated and have successfuly begun my career :D
  • gclsportsgclsports Registered User Posts: 209 Junior Member
    Hello @Chocolate-Taco ! I can't say that I am totally anxiety-free about this process, but at this point, I feel like S and I have both turned a corner. Now that school has started and S is existing on little sleep while spending every waking moment at school, engaged in ECs one of which is a fall sport, and doing homework, he seems to realize that I was not crazy for trying to get him to work on this over the summer. He's started paying more attention to the process and, although he is really going to struggle to find time, I feel encouraged that he will ultimately get everything done. I have made some realizations of my own, which have put me in a better frame of mind and helped me give S more space. I'm doing a better job putting less pressure on him while he figures it out. All of that helps.

    Part of the frustration that led to the original post was that I had already done all of the things you suggest (i.e., we had discussed the fact that there were certain things only he could do as part of this process and had identified what those things were, I had offered to review essays for clarity and grammar and to provide feedback in a supportive way, I had suggested dates for getting essay drafts done, we had talked about what we as a family can contribute toward college and what S needed to do to apply for merit scholarships at some of the schools on his list, we had offered emotional support if he chose a path other than college. etc. etc.), but none of it seemed to inspire any movement on S's part over the summer. I saw a time crunch coming and knew it was going to be rough if he didn't make real progress before school started. To help S conceptualize how little time he was going to have to devote to the college application process during the school year, I bought a big desk calendar, filled in all of his commitments (at least the ones we knew about at that time), noted all of the application deadlines in red, and gave it to S in late May. Still, it didn't seem to register with S. In retrospect, I guess he just wasn't ready to tackle it at that point, for whatever reason.

    The time crunch is here now and it is hitting S as hard as I anticipated. The good news is, every other part of his Common App is done. We are only waiting on the essay and the supplemental writing for those applications that require it. There is nothing more I can do at this point but cross my fingers, close my eyes and whisper "please get it done" to myself over and over again.
  • Chocolate-TacoChocolate-Taco Registered User Posts: 40 Junior Member
    @gclsports Thanks for following up and sharing your experience! I'll probably refer to my experience, my mom's and and yours when I have a kid reach this age...I admire parents like you who correctly anticipate the effect of a certain choice or behavior, then can eventually accept that they have done all that is appropriate, and the rest is up to the student.
  • CValleCValle Registered User Posts: 422 Member
    What has worked so far for us (and we are in the middle of it now) is starting by asking DD how much help/involvement she wanted. Turned out, she wanted a lot. She is in IB, totally overworked and stressed with school work. She wanted me to research schools, programs, deadlines, etc - and she would do the essays, application filling, etc. She is happy with the list I am suggesting (based on her priorities) and so far so good.

    I will use the tips above - I like the idea of a Sunday afternoon coffee shop essay writing date.
  • 123Mimi123Mimi Registered User Posts: 10 New Member
    I've suggested to my D that she put in all her BA application by October 1 so then she can focus on her BFA auditions and applications and have those in by November 1. And then January is audition time. Any downside to this plan?
  • KLSDKLSD Registered User Posts: 54 Junior Member
    One important lesson I learned is that a student's humor, personality and depth is often more easily expressed in the shorter prompts. Try having your son write the short prompts first and then return to the dreaded common app essay. Use one of his finished short essays to gauge whether his voice shows up in the long prompt.

    Our son is applying this fall and is contemplating ED. He watched his sister apply, visits her at school and is well aware that unfortunately our family will likely suffer an unexpected emotional and financial loss while he is in college. He has not written one essay line so far (8 weeks left)..... We have had multiple family discussions, and I have come to the conclusion that it is truly up to him.

    With his collection of scores and ECs, he will be asked to apply to some engineering schools through a special portal and doesn't need to attach an essay. If he is too lazy to write and express himself, he will also likely leave everything to the last minute in college, negating the need for schools with lots of extracurricular activities and an abundance of research opportunities. Never mind a student population that is always planning ahead. Why pay for a top tier school in place of merit aid at a great engineering school?

    On the other hand, he could sit down and write a unique, thoughtful, humorous essay and surprise us all. They are still teenagers and constantly change before our eyes...
  • hohocheerhohocheer Registered User Posts: 9 New Member
    wow all of this does bring back the full weight of some not so distant memories. Having just lived through this with my now 19 and 18 year olds, my empathy for you is high. My thoughts: if they have been lazy about school for the last 4 years, it's fair to say that they are lazy. But if your child hasn't been lazy, perhaps they are just scared. Remember the stage fright that glues one's mouth shut and causes one to seem utterly catatonic? So the solution is for the student to feel a fear worse than the one they are feeling. It's the ensuing deadline. that's terrifying, but that fear is energizing. Plan your schedule and theirs to accommodate the last minute sprint up the mountain. you may accuse me of being a helicopter parent and perhaps there's an argument to be made there. But still. Let's remember that they are JUST 17/18 years old, leaving home, and taking on this huge task with potential failure and humiliation written into it, no matter what advisors, parents, et. al say. Did you get in? did you get in? did you get in??

    It's tough. Tell them regularly how great they are and brainstorm some events that could lead to an essay. Tell them to just let their fingers type. don't worry about anything. Creativity is stifled by perfectionism. Remember that planning ahead/time management is a higher-order executive function and most 17/18 year olds are really not too good at this.

    I am so glad I don't have to write an essay about some horrid problem that overwhelmed me made me then grow as a person. And my child put on the cool, leave me alone attitude. Don't tell me what to do... He eventually did his work. He wrote, well! I edited (unlike this blurb that's popping off my fingers) He's doing B work at a top ten university for his Freshman year. He's a work in progress. So was I at his age, and mine. and, I was not calm for my 19 year old. I was much better behaved with my second child. Guess this could be the storyline of my common app prompt.

    Best wishes
  • Chocolate-TacoChocolate-Taco Registered User Posts: 40 Junior Member
    @hohocheer "It's the ensuing deadline. that's terrifying, but that fear is energizing."
    How do you help reframe the fear from a terrifying to an inspiration to be productive?
  • International DadInternational Dad Registered User Posts: 90 Junior Member
    edited August 31
    My son start to write his essay work in English Class in October and I was super worried, I wrote to the consuler pushing.
    At the end everything excelent.

    just recommend you to help him choose few College, check websites, scholarships, etc.

    Good Luck
  • northwestynorthwesty Registered User Posts: 2,637 Senior Member
    edited September 1
    "We got into a lovely Sunday afternoon habit of brunch or coffee in a place with wifi. She'd bring her laptop and work on supp essays, I'd bring a book or my own work, and sitting there together, occasionally consulting me, she eventually got them all done. I'd say she had 22 essays/short answers to do and we did this ritual over about 6 weeks."

    Exactly one year ago we were deep in the belly of the essay writing beast. Our process also involved coffee, wifi and computers.

    But instead of the happy zen path, we opted instead for the method that involved screaming, slamming doors, threats, bribes, procrastination and tears. Worked for us.

    Boy there's a real opportunity for some top school to corner the market on applications by becoming "essay free."

  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 Registered User Posts: 9,651 Senior Member
    we opted instead for the method that involved screaming, slamming doors, threats, bribes, procrastination and tears.

    Being out in public was our key! No crying in the local coffee shop ;)
  • KomodoRonanKomodoRonan Registered User Posts: 8 New Member
    Last I checked my local Starbucks doesn't have a ban on tears. Let 'em flow! :D
  • jakethesnake99jakethesnake99 Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
    Have you tried getting your husband to talk to him about it? Sometimes a male-male connection may be required when parental nagging from the mother dissuades him from speaking about the topic. The more you nag, the more he will push back. This is especially evident if you (no offense) have nagged him his entire life. Many teenagers in the 16-18 range start thinking about their independence and freedom at college and will very quickly lose respect for your authority even if they still live with you or are underage. My younger brother did something just like this and his relationship with our mother eroded. How badly does he really want to go to college? In our society, many children are raised from birth being told that they will graduate high school and they will go to college. Many kids grow up to share this view, but many do not and show resistance to it as high school graduation grows closer. To end, what would your son say about what you wrote? There's two sides to every story and I'd like to hear his.
  • toomanyteenstoomanyteens Registered User Posts: 535 Member
    I agree with @bopper - we did this dance with my step daughter and SAT-- she insisted nobody cared about SAT, she insisted it was no big deal. Once we finally got her to realize it was, she has very little time to prep and only a few affordable options (she let the scholarship deadlines slip on by because it was no big deal). We stopped fighting and gave her a short list of her alternatives -- she chose one (and one was in fact community college which would in fact have been FREE for two years because she IS a good student). She lived and she is going to a school that probably was not her first choice-- her issue.
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