Recipes for a Stress-Free Thanksgiving: The High School Senior Edition

The holiday season is chock full of family dinners and friendly gatherings. It is one of the most social times of the year. Unfortunately, for those of us with high school seniors, it is also one of the most stressful – it’s college application season.

In a perfect world, our children would be finished with their college applications and all testing would be complete by the time Thanksgiving rolls around. But, let’s face it; life is rarely perfect. Odds are that the high school senior with whom you are celebrating this year is still working on some applications and may even be studying for one final go at the SAT or ACT. If, by chance, everything is submitted and complete, students are in the midst of the uncomfortable period where all they can do is sit and wait for a decision.

Needless to say, these kids are stressed (and so are we, their parents). The college application process nightmare doesn’t end because turkey is placed on the table. With this in mind, I’m sharing three questions you should avoid asking this season.

“So, what’s your first-choice school?”

Just don’t.  Honestly, most kids have a “dream school”.  That said, many don’t want to share the name because…well…what if they don’t get in?  I know my daughter absolutely had a first choice, but she wouldn’t tell anyone.  Unless the information is volunteered, don’t ask!

How are those applications coming?”

This is a question that should only be raised between parents (or college advisors) and their children. You would not believe what applying entails. There are several on-line application portals. In many cases schools require multiple, unique essays. The process can be agonizing.  Applying to college often feels like a frustrating, full-time job. Take my word for it; you don’t want the answer to this question.

What is your SAT score?

Quite simply, this is none of your business. Think about it. Is there any reason you would need to know this information? Nope, not a one.  And, trust me, nobody at dinner cares that you scored a perfect 800 on the math SAT in 1982.  To be honest, these tests are completely different today than they were when the previous generation took them. You cannot compare scores, nor should you do that with these already stressed-out kids.

It is important to understand that everything has changed since we applied to college.  The expectations of our children are staggering. Colleges seem to want good grades, stellar test scores, tons of volunteer hours and demonstrated leadership in extra-curricular activities. The competition, across the board, is intimidating and the pressure is intensified by social media. The perfection portrayed online is truly unattainable.

So, this holiday season let’s all agree to give the kids (and their parents) a well-deserved holiday. Talk about football, your dog, or your upcoming vacation – basically, let’s discuss anything EXCEPT college.

Lori Wolk is a seasoned writer who would prefer not to discuss her third child’s college application process this Thanksgiving. She is generously sharing her wisdom and experience with GAMECHANGER’s audience. Need someone to write a blog or article for your local or business publications? Contact Lori at [email protected] today.


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