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September CPR Newsletter:
How To Avoid College Admissions Self-Sabotage

Hello fellow parent, and welcome!

I devote this newsletter to the great art of self-sabotage, famously present in the college search and seizure process (a “process,” indeed!), and especially this time of year. But first…


Read my advice in Business Insider for 5 Tips for Tackling the College Search With Your High School Student, written by our very own tribe member, Avital Norman Nathman.

Send your kid to https://intrepidapplicant.com/ so I can guide them through writing their college personal essay and make it easy and fun.

Go to https://fairtest.org/ for an updated list of all the colleges that are test-optional.

As always, download anything that’s helpful from the free resources on my website. What’s mine is yours.

Now let’s talk about self-sabotage…

For parents, self-sabotage can take the form of obsessing over college admissions. At its best (meaning least invasive to your kid), reading everything you can get your hands on in print and online is an exercise in silently trying to harness control. In this case, “more is not always better” (and too much knowledge of minutia can make you feel less in control).

Another (more damaging) form of parent self-sabotage is talking endlessly about college admissions. My students complain every year about the parent who holds them captive in the passenger’s seat, forcing college talk on the drive to the dentist’s office. And it can be hard not to blurt out questions and “suggestions” (we’ve learned from all our reading) every night at dinner. No shame if any of this sounds familiar. Resisting temptation and changing the subject for the sake of your relationship and sanity can start now.

For high-achieving students, self-sabotage can take the form of second-guessing everythingThe agony begins with inability to narrow down their college list and spirals from there. Come fall of senior year, they spend so much time thinking and re-thinking, second-guessing where to apply, and writing and rewriting essays that they neglect their very demanding senior classes, and grades can begin to dip.

Anxiety overtakes reason for these tortured souls, so please do everything in your power to shrink !!!COLLEGE!!! from the highest emergency priority to lower case “college.” It will only be four years (give or take) of your child’s future before they move on to their next big thing.

For all students, a popular form of self-sabotage is procrastination. Yes, some students assume college admission will happen for them without any effort on their part, but a lot of procrastinating students are paralyzed with fear. They avoid starting their college search (juniors) or their application (seniors) because subconsciously, as teen logic goes, if they don’t try, they can’t fail in this high-stakes “contest.”

We with more life experience can remind them that if they don’t try, they also can’t succeed. I’ve learned (by trial and error) that asking, “What can I do to help?” works better than nagging.

Sanity saver break from college admissions talk…

I cannot stop laughing, and I thought you also may need a laugh. Be sure to read the caption beneath this little video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_dFMzc2lDFc

In conclusion…

To battle self-sabotage: keep perspective, communicate, and help your child (and yourself) prioritize what really matters. Close that voluminous college guidebook and make sure your kid knows that what they do once they arrive at college—not where they get in—is what will lead them to achieving their wildest dreams (no matter what anyone else says).

This autumn, prioritize nailing deadlines (seniors), schoolwork (all students), down time and sleep (everyone, including you), and enjoying the fall foliage with no guilt. Wherever you are in the college admissions process, you are not behind. You are right where you should be.


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