Parent College Coach Tip #40: Pay Attention to Your Teen’s Emotions

teen's emotionsThe stress of the college admissions season weighs heavy on your college-bound teen. Take a look at a few of their repressed feelings.

RELATED: Parents, Don’t Let Stress Get the Best of You

A few years back the NY Times ran an article where they interviewed teens about college prep. Following are the feelings they discussed. Can you recognize any of these in your teen’s emotions?

RELATED: The “A” isn’t for anxiety – Preparing for Standardized Tests


They may seem fearless at times, but as they approach the final months of high school fear sets in. One teen recently described how she about how she feels as a junior.

“I fear for my rapidly approaching senior year. Should I really spend nine hours a night on school work? As I rack up as many extracurriculars, community service hours and “beneficial relationships” (college-prep speak for impressive recommendations), I can’t help but think that it’s not good enough. Better grades, higher scores, more varsity letters, more leads in the play: have I been bulking up an application that perhaps doesn’t reflect who I am, but instead just represents what a college wants from me? That is my true fear.”


The pressure they feel is of paramount proportions. This pressure will be exhibited in all kinds of emotions from tears, to anger, to denial to frustration. Another 17 year old felt the pressure of failing.

“Around the application deadline you’re studying for finals, and it’s your senior year. You already have a lot of classes and you have to write essays and you’re already stressed out thinking “what if they don’t want me?’’ And you worry what if you don’t get into any school at all? I’m not from a big city. We have pretty good schools, but I think in a bigger city with more people you have more perspective on where you stand in the nation. I’m not really sure how good I am.”


If your student hasn’t experienced rejection, get ready. There’s a strong possibility some of the colleges they apply to won’t offer them admission. One of the teens felt disappointment when the rejection letters started arriving.

“Everyone I had talked to, once they heard “perfect SAT,” they said, “You can get in anywhere.” That was the hardest part, having everyone tell me I would and then not getting in. It was a rough few days. The rejection letters and my parents both kept telling me it’s not a case of me not being good enough, but a case of too many qualified applicants. But it’s really hard not to feel like you got rejected….”

How is your teen feeling?

At the end of their senior year it will all be over; but at what cost? Doctors treat teens with headaches, stomach pain, lack of sleep, depression, eating disorders and mental health issues. Some have been thinking about college since 6th grade and by the time senior year rolls around they are spent. Some kids are able to handle it, others are not so lucky.

How is your teen handling the stress of college prep? Is it time to take a look at how they are feeling and give them some much needed love, encouragement, and acceptance?

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