Hello fellow parents, and welcome!
Today is launch day for College Admissions Cracked, and I have feelings about that. Mostly feelings of gratitude for those who bolstered me through the writing of this book (and every other aspect of my life), and also feelings of hope that it will bring some relief to parents suffering through college admissions with their teenagers. This book has been a long time coming, and it’s high time for the dawn of a Chill Parents’ Revolution. I hope with all my heart that it both informs and soothes you through the college admissions process with your own child and reminds you to take detours for self-care along the way.
Now, can we talk about the news? The bad news in college admissions is that on top of scandal, we’ve got wealthy parents giving up custody of their kids for college financial aid purposes. I mean seriously, folks? The good news is that we don’t have to let this tiny fraction of bizarrely fixated parents bring us down. The end of this nonsense can begin with us. The craziness out there stems from starting the college admissions odyssey from the outside—college rankings, prestige, what can I do to get my kid into the best school?—instead of from the inside: Who is this awesome child of mine, and what can colleges offer her? Do you see the mental flip that’s happening here? Does it make you feel saner already?
Approaching every aspect of the college admissions process by starting with the child who is actually applying instead of what the world at large thinks makes good sense. If your student says, “What do I want to say in my essay?” instead of “What do judgy people want to hear?” he’ll write a better, truer essay. If you have had that feeling of always being behind, or not doing enough, especially when compared to your friend John who has taken his kid to see like thirty colleges, let’s flip that sucker on its head, as well. You have obviously done enough to raise this child who has survived your parenting up to this point and is applying to college. You are NOT behind. Your child is different from John’s child, and you are different from John. Some kids (and parents) need to see every college within a fifty mile radius to feel like they’ve done enough, while others feel overwhelmed (or satisfied) after visiting two.
No matter how you approach the college admissions process, the result will be the same. Your child will become the independent, capable person you raised (this will not necessarily happen at the exact same time as her friends), she will get into college, and if she has a positive attitude wherever she lands, she’ll curate her college experience to make it perfect for her (“perfect fit” can only happen once she arrives there). Then after college, she’ll move on to the next stage of her life, adulthood, which (God willing) will last a whole lot longer than those few years of college.
I do not mean to take this transition lightly. It’s huge. Your child has lived his whole life thus far in your care, and you have played the role of caregiver to his every waking moment. It’s not easy for either of you to let this go, but you will. And your relationship will change, which is not a bad thing. It’s just a thing. It is not worth risking that relationship for the long term just to “win” the college admissions competition manufactured largely by businesses making money off of your adventure (or misadventure). There are plentiful studies about how getting into the most prestigious, highly selective college does not lead to a more meaningful life. But do you know what does feed a person’s soul? Relationships with loved ones. There are studies about that, too.
Keeping perspective during the college admissions process really will save your kid and yourself from the madness—just like the subtitle of my book suggests. Perspective will save you time, money, and the extended heartache some parents internalize when their child is denied at his first choice school, and perspective will save you from wrapping your self-worth around this one achievement. We all know this in theory, but so many loving, well-intentioned parents get unwittingly caught up in the college admissions frenzy that I wrote a book to bring back the love at the heart of this matter. And that book is available today!
I know. You’re used to more laughter in this newsletter, and there have been lots of laughs in my family this summer. For example, my daughter’s argument for not paying for the overuse charges she racked up on our family’s cell phone data plan was hilarious (and unsuccessful). My son insisted that sleeping in a hammock outdoors with the bugs and the heat was better than sleeping inside with climate control and a comfy bed. That was funny too. People who aren’t us have funny ideas about life—what’s best, how to live it, and how not to—and people from another generation (translation: our teenagers) sometimes have the funniest ideas of all. But sometimes they make sense, and they deserve to be listened to, especially now that they’re on the cusp of adulthood.
Enjoy the end of your summer with your child. Send College Admissions Cracked to someone who needs it, who is in the throes of the college admissions process. If your child is a high school senior, I’m offering you first dibs on a slot for an Application Review by me or a colleague who has worked for many years in an elite college admissions office, for expert advice and stress relief before your child submits applications. We’re only offering this service for a limited time, so please let me know if you’d like to grab a slot before we open it up to the general public. I told you I’d offer you access to every tool in my arsenal, and I meant it!
Store up relaxation for the moment school starts up again—whether you’re heading toward the fishbowl of “Where’s your child applying to college?” interrogations junior year; heading for the college application rush (amid difficult classes and ramped up activities) senior year; or dropping off your child at college for his first year, as I’m about to do in a week. (gulp) It’s all part of the journey. I am so happy you’ve chosen to join us, so we can take it together.