The Nerve Racking College Application Gauntlet



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You'll be hearing about this topic from me a lot in the up-coming year: the agony of the college application process and how to help our kids survive it. A few months ago when my husband and I noticed my son was acting out of sorts, cranky, not himself, we took him out for a cappuccino and a tete-a-tete.

Gratefully my son talks to us. He told us how worried he was about his chances to get into the college of his choice. At the time he was studying for the SAT as well. He's a smart guy but he was overwhelmed. He needed help with stress management. Together we worked out a study schedule that involved us all. His job was to study for the SAT just a few hours every day. Ours was to be in the same room with him sometimes feeding him problems, sometimes just quietly working on our own homework. Our presence made it easier for him to be disciplined. I also advised he start exercising regularly, just like I do with my patients who are dealing with stress and anxiety. He started running the next day.

Our interventions helped the entire family feel more in control, and my son did quite well on the SAT. That only leaves about thirty-seven more hurdles to get over before this time next year when we'll have an idea of where he will be going for college. Or will we?

Apparently this last year was unprecedented for huge wait lists. Being wait-listed at your top choice college is like being in the second circle of hell. Not as nasty as the seventh circle but far from heaven. Recently there were articles in the New York Times (For Students, A Waiting List is Scant Hope) and a story on National Public Radio (As College Wait Lists Grow, So Does Anxiety) about these deep wait lists. I can only imagine that means there are a lot of parents in journalism who are worried for their kids.

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