Teens can (obviously) learn a lot about themselves through the college application and admissions process. They have to really start envisioning their future, from what they want to learn to where they want to learn it. They start considering potential careers and even dreaming of things like marriage and family. But guess what? As their parents – the adults guiding them through the process – you’re going to learn something about yourself, too.
Like what? For many parents, this is the perfect opportunity to reexamine your own lives. As you’re helping your kids map out their future and figure out a path that will help them feel fulfilled, you have a unique opportunity to reflect on your own path. Would you be thrilled if your child followed in your footsteps, or would you be disappointed? In other words, are you fulfilled? As your teen starts figuring out what they want their future to look like, it’s your chance to do the same.
For many parents, this is the first time they’ve really had the opportunity to do this. After all, whether you’re a working parent, a stay at home parent, a work from home parent, or anything in between, much of your free time has been consumed with taking care of your children. As they start planning their next moves outside of the home, it’s your chance to start planning yours as an empty nester. Don’t worry – if the very idea of being an empty nester fills you with anxiety, that’s completely normal. This is yet another reason why it’s so beneficial to start planning your life sans high schoolers. Without high schoolers in the house, it’s the perfect time to pursue your own things. Take advantage!
My own other experienced this on a massive level. I left the state for school, and was so excited to live on my own, meet new people, and dive headfirst into my major (and career) of choice. When I started my new chapter, so did my mother – in fact, she retired from practicing law, moved to the country, and opened an animal sanctuary. (I’m not kidding.) While this is a very… dramatic example, it’s a wonderful one. It was as if my fresh start inspired her to find her own, and today she’s happier than ever. Maybe you’re already living your dream life, maybe you’re not – the only important thing is that you realize you’ve got control over it. Whether it’s a new hobby, a new career, or a new goal, the college application and admission process is the perfect time to identify it and start making plans.
Helping your kids choose and apply to colleges is a crazy process, and it’s likely one that will make you want to rip your hair out a few times. However, it can be a life-changing process, and not just for your child.