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College applications: What I've learned as a parent the second time around

Dave_BerryDave_Berry 492 replies2608 threadsCC Admissions Expert Senior Member
"... It turns out that when we actively stop helicoptering, a funny thing happens: They survive. It reminds me of another time I changed parenting tactics. When my first would drop her pacifier on the ground, we’d freak out and sterilize it. The second one? I’d pick it up, stick it in my own mouth and it was good to go. Both survived.

So, here are some things I’ve learned and, as a result, this college application fall has been largely uneventful. Oh, my senior son is definitely still in the weeds — at this moment he has 5 of 9 applications completed. Lots to be done. But for me? There is clarity as I remind myself to:" ...

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Replies to: College applications: What I've learned as a parent the second time around

  • jagrrenjagrren 26 replies1 threads Junior Member
    I wholeheartedly agree. i am on my 3rd child, and she does not want any input at all. She has an affordable and realistic list (thank you Naviance), so I'm staying back and letting her handle it. She has one admission already (yay!), so I'm good with being less involved than I was with her older siblings.
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  • mackinawmackinaw 3028 replies53 threads Senior Member
    edited November 9
    For us, there was little carryover from one child's college search to the other's. Each search was planful and largely free of angst.

    **What the kids had in common**
    #1 & #2 had parents with a good sense of the academic scene on a national level.
    #1 & #2 had parents who could afford to send them to any college, in part because the grandparents chipped in about 25% of the costs of attendance.

    **How the kids differed**
    -- #1 wanted a strong academic institution in a major league city. No specific career goal but possibly an academic career.
    -- #2 wanted an art school preferably in a real city in the East. Career as artist and ecological designer.

    -- #1 had strong math skills and very high scores on all the key standardized tests. A National Merit Semifinalist.
    -- #2 had taken summer pre-college art programs to help in building skills and a portfolio of 2D and 3D creations.

    -- #1 had strong EC's, as well as statewide awards in journalism, debate, and math competitions.
    -- #2 had won blue ribbons at art shows.

    **The search**
    Because of their different interests and core skills there was no carry over from one college search to the other. There was also no rivalry between the kids. There was no overlap in the colleges that the two kids applied to. Of the ca. 12 colleges they applied to, they got into 11. They were happy with the colleges they chose to attend. They each spent a period of study abroad (one of them for a summer, the other for an academic year). They both graduated in 4 years.
    edited November 9
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  • HappyNJOOSHappyNJOOS 117 replies13 threads Junior Member
    First child: applications submitted at last minute to make EA deadline
    Second child: all applications all done by Aug 18

    First child: personal essay done end of September
    Second child: personal essay done Aug 15 (before school started)

    First child: waited too long for dorm deposit
    Second child: deposit already sent to one school

    First child: never checked applicant portal for updates
    Second child: checks weekly, found 2 schools accepted without any email or snail mail

    Both kids did good in touring colleges early (Soph + Junior year). Second child knew better questions to ask.
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  • DadTwoGirlsDadTwoGirls 5617 replies1 threads Senior Member
    "She has an affordable and realistic list"

    This exact sentence applied to us also. The second time around, I think that my second daughter had learned more from watching big sister apply to universities than any of the rest of us.

    D2 had a very sensible list of very good, very affordable universities to apply to. She might have applied to one "super safety" which was not necessary, but otherwise it was simply a matter of deciding between four schools all of which were academically excellent, all of which were a good fit, and all of which were affordable.

    D2 even knew how schools would decide who got preference on dorms, and made her decision and got her deposit money in early enough to get the dorm that she wanted.

    All that we did was drive her from school to school, and arrange one tour during a break when tours were not supposed to be available (asking politely sometimes does help).
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  • NhatrangNhatrang 235 replies0 threads Junior Member
    My first one is very stubborn and extremely independent. She did everything by herself without ever needing me to "tell her". Everything rom selecting school lists to essay topics, signing up for testings, taking a ton of APs, application deadlines, letter of recommendations, etc. and etc.

    Doing a lot of program/project management at work, it was sort of my nature and i tried to do the same thing with her but i got put right where i belong, which was VERY hard for me. I felt so useless and helpless. I wanted to be part of the process but she didn't want any input from me. She shared her thoughts or decisions AFTER she has vetted out all the options, hubby would give feedback here and there and he was so good at talking to her. I only read her essays right before she submitted, just so i know what's going on, but not for feedback.

    She told me, mom you don't need to "manage" me like you do with your employees. She was right, but last year with the college application process was probably the most difficult year for me. And it didn't need to be that way. I should not be worrying about anything because she was on top of everything. It may not be done "yesterday" like i wanted but she submitted high quality applications way before the deadlines.

    When the results came in, we didn't even know what her top choice would be. She kept a low profile on her attitude with schools. She applied to 12 schools total: mostly T20, a couple of ivies, and a couple of safeties. She said if all she got was Penn State (her safety) she would be very happy going there. She got accepted to 10 out of 12. One after another she was happy to get the acceptance but her happiness seemed to be "equal" for those schools, we were so puzzled at which school she would chose, until UCB decision came and she called her best friend and did the dance and sing "I got to Berkeley I got to Berkeley", we knew then that that's where she is going. Not our top choice but it was her decision.

    Anyways, sorry for a wall of text. But yeah, i did not handle myself well with my first child at all. I didn't do much for her or impact her process in anyway, but I am sure everyone could feel my anxiety in the room.

    My next child, which is 4 years from now, I promise myself, and my husband that will enjoy watching the process from the sideline and just be thankful that the kiddo knows what he is doing.
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  • TooOld4SchoolTooOld4School 3345 replies12 threads Senior Member
    edited November 15
    Our main lesson was in finances. The financial aid calculators were all wrong because of self-employment and capital gains, and we ended up being full pay , so state schools looked a lot better. Our kids started during the great recession, and neither wanted to take out any loans, and state schools looked better yet. Finally, we had purchased our state's prepaid tuition program, which helped tremendously when the markets tanked. The youngest is graduating next spring, and none have any debt, nor do we parents. Thanks Michigan!

    Now we have the luxury of stepping back, both of our kids are applying to grad school this year. One has saved enough for B-school by working , the other is looking at fully funded Ph.D. programs. Just in time for my wife to retire!
    edited November 15
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  • compmomcompmom 10837 replies77 threads Senior Member
    Each child was different. As with parenting in general, I sometimes felt I knew less with each one, not more :)
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