An Open Letter to High School Parents

high school parents

by Suzanne Shaffer, Parent Editor

Dear High School Parents,

You’ve probably been scrolling down the Facebook pages the last few weeks at all the first day of school pictures of Kindergarten students. You’re lucky if your high school student agreed to pose for a picture, let alone allowed you to post it on Facebook.

You are entering uncharted waters and for some, the final months and days of high school. From someone who survived those years, I want to share some parenting insight to help you along your college journey.

Nag less and listen more

You will be tempted to nag: write this, apply to this, study for this, and search for this. Nagging will only cause strife and stress for you and your student. Instead, listen to his concerns, his visions, and his dreams. Listen carefully to ascertain whether or not college is the best choice. Listen to him talk about how he feels about the entire college prep process. And once you’ve listened, guide him — don’t nag.

RELATED: ‘But What Do You Like to DO?’: Taking an ‘Interest Inventory’

Do less and encourage more

Avoid the temptation to take over the process. As one admissions officer told me, “Let your student drive the car.” You can be a coach, an advisor, a mentor and an attentive listener. You can also help with data gathering, scholarship searching, and deadline reminders. But under no circumstances should this process be yours. Let your student own his own future.

Compare less and research more

Don’t listen to other parents who want you to compare your student to theirs. This is you and your student’s journey. Do your research. Ask the experts. Don’t rely on hearsay to make your decisions. Your student is unique and his journey will be unique. Arm yourself with all the information and tools to help with the process. Then pass it along to your student.

RELATED: 6 College To Do’s for High School Juniors

Panic less and plan more

If there’s one piece of advice I give parents it’s this: stay organized and don’t miss any deadlines. Establish a landing zone early and make sure all college-related materials end up in that area. Make a plan throughout high school and follow the plan. Once your student enters senior year, you should be organized and ready to begin the application process.

And follow these three words of advice: preparation prevents panic.

All the best in your journey,

Suzanne Shaffer
Parent College Coach

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