On Podcast Episode 115, Moira McCullough met with Norma Greenberg to discuss the trials and tribulations of “Managing Family Dynamics During the College Application Process.” Having worked as a guidance counselor for most of her life, Norma has experience with being the go-to person for many of her students about their complicated family issues and situations. She has worn the hat of a college admissions counselor and a psychologist for high school students, and found interest in the blending of these two fields in order to help families navigate the college admissions process; in 2016, Norma started Comprehensive College Consulting in order to do just this.
Norma sheds light on the stress and uncertainty that can greatly disrupt a family’s dynamic while a student is applying for colleges. For one, parents must figure out how and when to consult their child on one of the biggest financial decisions of their lives, and may have to engage in difficult conversations with their child about the realities of his or her options. Parents often have high standards for their children based on their own academic backgrounds or that of their siblings. They also must walk a fine line of staying involved while still allowing their student to make this decision on their own. Simultaneously, students must fight the annoyance or frustration they may feel towards their parents as parents only want what is best for them. As if this process is not already hard enough, the pandemic greatly increased everyone’s anxiety about college admissions. Students who had previously been straight A students may not have anything to show for the last couple of years except Pass/Fail grades, and might not even know which colleges to set their sights on. Many parents are still working from home which allows for even more opportunities for parents to “help” students imparting their views and desires into the college selection process.
Navigating the college admissions process can be tough for any family. Many believe that the stress and arguments will come to an end after the student has committed to a school, and this is partly true. The reality, though, is parenting a child in college can put a different type of strain on a relationship, one that can be just as difficult to figure out. Thankfully, there are a number of different ways that both the parents and now college students can work to maintain, and even strengthen, their relationship from afar.
How to Navigate Family Life During College
It is important for families to set and respect a few boundaries when a child goes off to college.
- Parents should not make their student feel guilty for not replying to their texts and calls immediately, and should instead, encourage their child to live in the moment and make the most out of their time away.
- Parents should learn how to get comfortable with less information, and instill the trust in their child that they will need to make tough decisions about their academic and social life on their own.
- The student should also make certain efforts to keep in touch with their families. Doing as little as setting up a weekly video chat or sending pictures of the exciting things that you are doing as a college student means the world to parents, and they will sleep better at night knowing that you are happy and safe.
Experts suggest that the independence that comes along with being a college student can actually make the relationship between the parents and child much more gratifying. As long as parents are willing to let go of their authoritative responsibilities and take on ones that are more advisory, then the distance truly has the potential to make the heart grow fonder. Just as families can survive the challenges that Norma depicts in Podcast Episode 115: “Managing Family Dynamics During the College Application Process,” they can also survive the challenges that come with being apart. Check out this article for more information on how to manage family dynamics after the college application process.
Key Takeaway Scoop: Navigating the college admissions process can be a challenge, especially when surrounded by family. Everyone’s ideas and opinions may overwhelm or confuse prospective college students, even though they come from a place of love and pride. It is important to acknowledge the stress that the application process puts on family dynamics, and the stress that follows; once the student chooses and attends a college, these dynamics shift even more. Families must remember to set and respect certain boundaries, and welcome the new and exciting opportunities that come with having a child in college.