Avoid Helicopter Parenting

What do we mean when we say we want to raise “successful” children? Success is hard to measure and may mean different things to everyone. When checking off the achievement box is what defines success, it’s too easy to forget that it’s the qualities in our children that might lead to those accomplishments that matter — not the goals themselves. While we want to protect our children from harm, what we too often end up doing is protecting them from learning. It teaches them, instead, that their parents believe they are incapable of achieving anything worthwhile on their own.

Raising a successful adult means letting a child be a child, with all the mistakes and consequences and learning that come with childhood. If we cover up our children’s best work with ours, they learn that their best isn’t good enough. If we cover up their weak efforts with our willingness to do more, then they’ll never learn that more is worth doing. If we prop up their procrastination with our ability to nag, they’ll never learn to discipline themselves.

We live in an increasingly competitive world. Those days when a just a 4.0 GPA and a decent SAT score can you get you into an Ivy League, nowadays college graduates who excelled in college may struggle to get jobs, and may need to save for several years just to be able to afford an apartment. Instead of micromanaging your child, here are some great tips on how you can be an encouraging and supportive parent during this time of the year of application decisions:

Promote independence in all aspects of your child’s life.
Your child’s success in college starts in high school. The realities of independent living and decision-making come on very quickly, and often end badly if the student hasn’t had any real practice learning to deal with the consequences of poor planning or mistakes. These skills are not intuitive. Students need guidance in life skills like communications with adults (even if it’s just text), laundry, managing money and their social life. A few stumbles now will give them tools for dealing with future struggles on their own.

If you feel overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to seek the advice of counselors who make it their business to understand the world of higher education and the admissions process.

Help your child to evaluate his/her strengths and weaknesses.
Most students begin the college search with features such as size, location, sports teams and weather and very little thought to academics and what will fit their needs as a student! The process of self-assessment is an important one, and many students do not know where to begin. Your thoughtful insight to their preferences, strengths and weaknesses can help them focus on what is most important to their college experience.

Be honest and listen.
Share your feelings and frustrations with the college process. Be sure to discuss finances openly and express your expectations of your child for his or her contributions. If you can’t support certain choices, be clear about this early in the process. Your honesty will help to keep the lines of communication open. Also, don’t forget to listen to your child’s own feelings and reactions and to watch for what is being unsaid.

Be open to options.
Try to set aside your own experiences and biases toward certain institutions and keep an open mind. No one college or post-graduate option is “right,” there are many choices that can result in a good match for your child. Help your child to recognize that seeking perfection will only result in disappointment. It is much more productive to have a list of 10 schools, at different levels of admission probability, where your child will be happy, than to hold out for one or two dream schools.

Respect your child’s individuality and privacy.
You’ve known it all along, your child is not you, and it will show during this process. Be aware of your child’s desire for privacy. Celebrate their accomplishments modestly and realize that they may not want their selection process, scores, grades or college choices to be open discussion.

Lastly..the choice needs to remain with your child, within the parameters that you agree on as a family. Allowing them as much ownership as they can handle will give them the satisfaction that they really had a choice. You will undoubtedly experience many mixed emotions during this pivotal point in your child’s life, it is how you react to your emotions that will make the difference in the long-term health of the relationship with your college student.

credit: College Options; Launching Your Child’s College Search Process

College Application Checklist

Essays + Supplements

Writing the main application essay is the part of the process most students dread. While it is one of the most time-consuming pieces of application preparation, it is one of the most impactful. The main essay, and any supplemental essays required by individual institutions, allow an applicant to become multidimensional. This is a chance to add their voice and personality (and sometimes humor!) to what might otherwise be a bland application.

Activity List

The activity list on a college application gives an admission reviewer the opportunity to learn about an applicant’s life outside the classroom. Because a significant amount of the college experience revolves around the many extracurricular and social activities offered at an institution, admission officers use an applicant’s activity list to assess whether they’ll be active members of the campus community. It’s important to remember that colleges are looking for depth, not just breadth, in activity lists. They want to see students who are dedicated and passionate about their activities, not simply those who start or join clubs in an attempt to pad their application.

Teacher and Counselor Recommendations

Most colleges require students to submit teacher recommendations, a recommendation from their school counselor, and a copy of their most recent transcripts. Unlike in the past, all recommendation forms and records are now sent electronically from the student’s recommenders or school directly to the colleges to which they are applying. Students should ask teachers prior to sending the electronic request and be sure to give them several weeks to complete their recommendations. While the actual submission of recommendations is done by the counselor and teachers, the responsibility of confirming they’ve been received by the colleges is the responsibility of the student.

Test Scores

In addition to having high school transcripts and recommendations sent, students will need to have the results of their ACT or SAT testing sent to each college to which they will apply. While every college in the U.S. will accept results from either one of these tests, most colleges will use just the highest score from one test sitting. It’s important to check score reporting policies for each institution as there are some who are test optional and others that may require students to submit scores from every test sitting on their record. Also, requests should be made at least one month prior to an application deadline as delivery time of test scores to colleges can take several weeks.

Review Needed Materials

Students preparing materials should be sure to check specific application requirements for each institution. Colleges also may require interviews, auditions, portfolios or additional testing depending on the type of student and program they are considering. It’s important for students to pay careful attention to requirements and deadlines for each individual college. By ensuring all materials are submitted in a timely manner, and by providing information that helps the admission committee get to know them well, students will have the best opportunities possible once decision day arrives.

credit: Northeast Ohio Parent Magazine

De-Stress Tips

Today, I want to talk about how to reduce your stress level. If you’re anything like me, I have a tendency to try to multitask too many things all at once. So I guess I’m pretty guilty myself when I tell my students how important it is take things slow and relax. (haha) But I’m working on taking this advice for myself! You may think that your day is too jam-packed with meetings and events to find the time for relaxation. Believe it or not, you can take easy measures to reduce your stress levels that won’t even take a lot of your time. Here are five tips that can help you de-stress.

1. Sensory Break
A sensory break is going to mean different things for people. What’s a tool you can use that makes you feel better? For me, it’s using a jade roller on my face. This tool revs up circulation, de-puffs the eye area, and improves skin elasticity. And since it promotes lymphatic drainage, it’s detoxifying. My addiction really lies in just how soothing it is to place the cool stone on my face when I need to de-stress. It’s also small and lightweight so you can carry this with you on the go.

2. Aromatherapy
The benefits of aromatherapy still impresses me by the speed with which a single sniff of perfume can change my mood. I purchased an Aromatherapy Essential Oil Diffuser with changing LED mood colors on Amazon earlier this year. After trying it out for myself for a few months, I’ve definitely converted to using this little gadget pretty much everyday. This doesn’t even have to be turned on before going to bed but even during the daytime. Just place it somewhere close to your bed or desk and it will not interfere with your sleep or distract you during the daytime in any unpleasant way; the mist of the oil diffuses slowly the next few hours in an aromatic experience and keeps you feeling in a great mood.
Suggestion: If you don’t like the idea of using a machine, an all natural essential oil jelly (similar to vaseline) will do just fine. I use this Lavender organic breathe easy rub by The Honest Co. whenever I need a quick breather under my nose. Breathe into it or rub it under your nose. I guarantee it’ll feel amazing.

3. Wave Therapy
This one is similar to an aromatherapy oil diffuser but only used at night going to bed. This little machine is an all natural sleep aid after a stressful day. It facilitates a restful night’s sleep and is also recommended for babies in the nursery. You have the option to choose between 6 soothing nature sounds: White Noise, Fan, Ocean, Rain, Stream, and Summer Night. Place it on a 15, 30, or 60 minute timer or just place it on ON all night.

4. Laugh
Laughter really is the best medicine, and if you can laugh away the stress, your outlook for the rest of the day will be a lot more easy. What I like to do is watch a quick 5-10 minute stand up comedy video on YouTube. Dave Chappelle, Aziz Ansari, Ali Wong, and Louis Ck are a few of my favorite stand up comedians. Just be careful to stick to 1 or 2 videos if you go to YouTube since it’s so easy to end up browsing a million other videos.

5. Hobby
Aside from focusing on your major or career, having a separate hobby that interests you is important. It gives you a sense of purpose and helps you to stay productive. So whether that’s blogging, taking pictures, or volunteering at an animal shelter, having something to look forward to do at least once a week helps you to take some personal time for yourself aside from just studying or working.

If you have any great de-stress ideas that works for you, write me a comment below!