You are a mother of a high school student, and you are freaking out about the empty nest ahead? Together we will channel your freaking out energy into freaking awesome energy! You will THRIVE as your child(ren) prepares, heads off to, and experiences college. ~ Christine, Your Empty Nest Coach
00:00:00 Christine: You are listening to the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast, with Coach Christine, episode number 24: With My Child Heading to College, Are the Thoughts I’m Having Normal? … My future empty nest friend, I want to talk about the normal thoughts that you may expect to have, as you prepare for your child heading to school. But first, a story. I wear glasses.
00:00:00 Christine: You are listening to the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast, with Coach Christine, episode number 24: With My Child Heading to College, Are the Thoughts I’m Having Normal? This podcast is for you, a mother who years ago walked away from a career to raise your child. Sure, you’ve been busy volunteering, car pools, maybe part-time work and taking care of everyone. But your main gig, that has been your child. Now, that they are in their later years of high school, the empty nest looms ahead for you and it is freaking you out. I’ve been there and I get it. Together, we’ll turn our freaking out energy into freaking awesome energy.
00:00:37 Hello, my empty nest friend! A quick reminder that this and all of my episodes are brought to you by my free seven-day program, The Empty Nest: A Guide to Uncovering Future You. Hop on over to my website and sign up today. My website? You guessed it, youremptynestcoach.com.
00:00:57 My future empty nest friend, I want to talk about the normal thoughts that you may expect to have, as you prepare for your child heading to school. But first, a story. I wear glasses. I used to wear contacts, but my eyes didn’t love the contacts entering in and out of my eyes, day after day, after day. One year, I decided just skip paying for the extra contact exam, and only get glasses. I haven’t looked back. With glasses, there is the issue of them getting dirty. Say a drop of water gets on my glasses, like when I walk to work and it’s raining. Or maybe, hypothetically, I get really messy with my coffee, my bulletproof coffee, in particular, in the morning. Say I were to, hypothetically, shake my travel coffee mug before the lid is on tight, and now the coffee’s on my glasses in a few different spaces. I wish I could tell you that I’ve only done this once before. I so wish I could tell you that, but I can’t.
00:01:59 Anyway, with coffee drops on my glasses, I have a few options. One, is to leave the coffee drops on my glasses. Have it be noticeable from time to time, it probably bothers others more than me, and it kind of stays in my line of vision, reminding me it is there, and that I should be a better human and clean my freaking glasses. My second option is that I could not clean them, and focus on the coffee drops, complain about the coffee drops and not take my eyes off the coffee drops. How productive do you think I would be in life, for as long as I do that?
My third option is I could pick up a cloth, quickly clean them off, and go about my day. Which would you do? It seems obvious with coffee drops on glasses, doesn’t it? But how about our thoughts? Does this apply to your thoughts about your child heading off to college? Let me tell you. You might have thoughts like these pop into your head in the upcoming weeks, or maybe, they’re already there. Will my child ever bathe in college?Will they find a community that welcomes them? How will they focus enough to study with the many distractions available on a college campus?What the heck am I gonna do with my time? Will they eat well?What if they party too much and drop out of school? What if they take seven years to get through college? Motherhood is over.
00:03:25 You could have those thoughts. You could just as easily have thoughts like my child is going to thrive in college. My child will make so many friends in college. I’m going to find my purpose with my newfound time. Right? But our minds run to those first batch of thoughts. Those coffee drops on our glasses. Thoughts that make us feel all queasy inside. Remember in episode 3, I shared with you how your thoughts are in boxes, being delivered to your mind, or a house? You may choose to accept the delivery and do something with it, or you may refuse the delivery.
00:04:04 These coffee drops are simply another visualization alternative for you. Your thoughts are like drops of coffee on a pair of glasses. Glasses that you need to see to function in life. You can choose to focus on the drops, or thoughts, and have them keep you from moving forward in life, in a clear manner, or you can choose to pick up a cloth and quickly clean them off. Two seconds. You see the thought, identify it, and clean it away, or refuse the delivery, especially if it makes you feel all queasy inside.
00:04:36 Catch your thoughts and use your amazing mind to decide if it is a thought worth keeping. I didn’t answer the question, yet, did I? Are your thoughts normal? I’m going to ask you another question. If I have a thought like my child is going to fail out of school, let’s say that thought pops into my head. If I then catch my thought (Yay, me! Step one is complete!), but then, I think that is an awful thought. Do you think the queasy feeling is going to go away? Probably not. I want you to treat all thoughts like they are perfectly normal. No matter what they are. Rather than beating yourself up over a thought that pops into your wonderfully creative mind, I want you to notice it, and think why wouldn’t I have that thought? You can even add why wouldn’t I have that silly thought? If it makes you smile. All we want to do is identify the thought. That is the first step to allowing it to lose power in your life. Then, we disregard it, and it will be like a balloon with a hole in it. The power will deflate.
00:05:47 Yes, your mind might fight you. With enough practice you will get better and better at all of this. You, my friend, are perfectly normal. Your mind is creative and you have many, many thoughts. Some will provide you with the ability to create value in your life, and in the lives of others. Other thoughts will slow your actions, as if you’re stuck in a bucket of molasses. Don’t you have days where you feel that way? I know I do. Next time you feel that way, check your thoughts.
00:06:17 In episode 20, I shared the idea of someone making a comment, and you treat it as if you just told you that you’ll wake up tomorrow and be a turtle. Remember that? Try that with your own thoughts. Don’t let your bossy mind boss you around. You need to use your incredible mind for good, for good in your life. Create fantastic thoughts. Create incredible actions. Create tremendous results and value in your life, and in the lives of everyone around you. You can do this all by noticing and adjusting those boxes, those drops of coffee on your glasses, those thoughts. You can do it, my friend. They’re all perfectly normal. Don’t think otherwise. I can’t wait to see how you change your world and the world around you. If you are ready to begin the journey to find future you, and use her as your GPS, definitely sign up for my free program, The Empty Nest: A Guide to Discovering Future You. Episode 13 covers that program, as well.
00:07:17 The questions I have for you in this episode are:
1) What silly thought does your mind like to present to you?
00:07:42 Why should you join our group? The adjustment to not having your kiddos at home full time isn’t always easy, but it sure can be a ton more fun with a flock of friends. We look forward to seeing you there. As always, I provide content to make you think, my empty nest friend. My hope is that I am able to provide you with the thoughts that positively impact your life. You’ll find show notes for this and every episode on my website.
00:08:04 My next episode’s title is: My Partner is Driving Me Crazy. Yes. Exactly like that. If my show has helped you in any way, please share it with one other person you think it will help, too. You’ll be giving them a free gift. Thanks for your time and energy with that, my friend, and thanks so much for listening. Remember, you are amazing!
Recently, I was a guest on the Scholarship Shark podcast!
The lovely Pam Andrews hosts this podcast and invited a couple of amazing ladies and me to share our thoughts and experiences as college moms. I had a tremendous amount of fun chatting with Pam, Monica, and Debbie!
I am unbelievably excited to have Carolyn Allison Caplan AKA Admissions Mom as a guest on my episode, today. Honestly, I could have spoken with Carolyn for hours, but, alas, I had to return to work from my lunch break. But, no worries, we already discussed having her back on the podcast. Yay!
In this episode, we chat about those extracurricular activities that are so necessary for a college application. Carolyn’s viewpoint is one that I adore, and her heart for the students she assists is evident and infectious. Seriously, take a look at the karma this amazing lady has on Reddit! Good stuff!
Whether you have a kiddo heading off to college in the next few years or not, there are tremendous nuggets of wisdom in this conversation with Carolyn. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed chatting with her (look at that screenshot)! As always, thanks for listening!
Christine: You are listening to the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast, with Coach Christine, episode number 19: Let’s Talk About Extracurriculars. … Today’s episode is all about those extracurricular activities that our children feel pressured to be a part of in their high school years. Sure, some of our kids are all in and it’s hard to keep up with them. But what about parents who have kids that have no motivation to participate in school activities?
00:00:00 Christine: You are listening to the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast, with Coach Christine, episode number 19: Let’s Talk About Extracurriculars. This podcast is for you, a mother who years ago walked away from a career to raise your child. Sure, you’ve been busy volunteering, car pools, maybe part-time work and taking care of everyone. But your main gig, that has been your child. Now, that they are in their later years of high school, the empty nest looms ahead for you and it is freaking you out. I’ve been there and I get it. Together, we’ll turn our freaking out energy into freaking awesome energy.
00:00:35 Hello, my empty nest friend! Thanks for listening today. How is your month going? I hope it is fantastic. Today’s episode is all about those extracurricular activities that our children feel pressured to be a part of in their high school years. Sure, some of our kids are all in and it’s hard to keep up with them. But what about parents who have kids that have no motivation to participate in school activities? What does this all mean? You know me, I’ll tell you it can mean whatever you want it to mean, but I’m bringing in someone with a lot of Reddit karma to share her thoughts on the topic. I found a post on Instagram about extracurriculars, and took a read. It was written by my guest, AdmissionsMom, and to be honest, I felt connected to her, and was continually saying, yes, yes, yes, as I read her post. The best news is that when I asked her to join me for an episode to talk about this topic, she said yes. My future empty nest friends, if you have a child heading off to college soon, you really should get to know AdmissionsMom. This episode is for you. If you don’t have a child heading off to school soon, still take a listen because AdmissionsMom is all about your child learning who they are. That is likely why I feel a connection to her.
00:01:55 To share a little more about AdmissionsMom, a.k.a. Carolyn Allison Caplan, she started on a simple subreddit, Applying to College, that has taken on a life of its own. Carolyn went through the college process with her three amazing, but very different kids and lived to tell the tale. That subreddit has matured with over 70,000 subscribers. Now, she has both an app and a book in the works. AdmissionsMom helps students and parents through the stressful college admissions process with tips on choosing the right school for your child, learning to leave the pressure behind, and practicing mindfulness. She’s my kind of lady.
00:02:37 Christine: Carolyn, a.k.a. AdmissionsMom, thrilled to have you here. Welcome to the Your Empty Nest Coach Podcast!
Carolyn: Thank you so much, and thank you so much for having me here. I’m excited to be able to learn from you and maybe share a few ideas.
Christine: I think we’re all going to learn from you. I was like, she’s got 70,000 subscribers on Reddit, people! Is that right?
Carolyn: Ninety. Ninety thousand, now.
Carolyn: Ninety something.
Christine: I can’t believe you’re talking to me. How do you have time?
Carolyn: They’re not my subscribers, by the way. It’s Applying to College, I’m just a moderator.
Christine: Did you start it?
Carolyn: No. I didn’t. I came on when we had about 8,000 subscribers.
Christine: Good clarification, but excellent nonetheless. My goodness!
Carolyn: Yes. We have a lot of helpful adults. I’m not the only one there by any means.
Christine: That is wonderful. Carolyn, while I know you are able to speak to many aspects of the college admission process, today, let’s talk about those extracurricular activities that our kiddos feel extreme pressure to add in their high school years. I have some questions for you that might be on my audience’s mind, as they prepare for their child heading off to college in the years to come. Are you all ready?
00:03:50 Christine: All right. Question number one, how important are extracurriculars really, in the college admission process?
Carolyn: I think extracurriculars are important in life and I pretty much take everything out of the college admissions process because living a good life, living a full, human-being life makes you a good college admissions prospect. Yes. They’re important, because it’s important to be involved in life. That’s where I can kind of come in. I think that you get involved in your life, personally — your personal life. You read, read, read, get a job, take care of yourself, exercise, practice mindfulness, meditation, yoga. Learn things that help your brain development, like an instrument, or a language. Take up a project, all of those things. Get involved in your own life. Get involved in your family by doing the dishes, by making dinner, by helping out with siblings and grandparents. Then, get involved in your school. It can be by starting a club, joining a club. That’s great if that’s your thing, and that’s what you want to do. Go for it. But it can also be something independent, like simply sitting next to somebody who you see sitting alone in the cafeteria and making a point to say hello to them. There are all sorts of ways to be involved, and get involved in your community. Find where you have gifts that you can share and find where you can help. If you don’t feel like you have any gifts, simply go pet kittens at an animal shelter, or walk a dog. There’s all sorts of ways, and if you’re not old enough to do that, make goody bags to pass out to homeless people. There’s so many ways to be involved. But if you’re involved, then you’re doing extracurriculars. That’s where I feel like it’s important, and I feel like that’s important as a human being in the world.
00:05:36 Christine: Love it. So good. Just being involved in your own life. That’s wonderful. This is what I got from reading your blog and I loved it. It’s great.
Carolyn: I can go into a lot more specifics if you want. I have tons of specifics.
Christine: Yes. You know what? Maybe we’ll wrap up there because I think you’ve already given me ideas and I’m like, man, petting kittens! Yes!
Christine: Do you think there’s such a thing as too many extracurriculars?
00:06:05 Carolyn: I think that there’s too many extracurriculars if you’re feeling stressed out about it. If you’re doing the extracurriculars simply because you think they need to be done to be in college, or because you just have so many interests that you’re overwhelming yourself. I am very guilty of this, of doing too many things and sometimes I have to sit back and prioritize. I know for some of us who have a lot of energy, that can be the case. Then, it’s more about just taking care of yourself, and finding the balance. If you’re doing it just for college admissions, then, yes, you can definitely be guilty of doing too many extracurriculars. You certainly don’t have to be involved in everything. But I do want the kids who I talk to, to be involved with something in their own lives, physically, mentally and emotionally, to be involved with their families in some way, to be involved with their school in some way, and to be involved in their community in some way. I think that’s just what makes a good well-rounded, and not well-rounded in a bad way, like college admissions. Just a good well-rounded person, a human being on this earth.
Christine: Wonderful. Wonderful. I can think of three more episodes I want you on. That’s so good. I love that. That physical, mental and emotional thinking about that. I think sometimes, especially as parents, we just get caught up on the checkboxes that we need for college admission, and there’s so much pressure. Yes, you’re in choir, but maybe you’re not the president, and do you have to be the president of everything, and just, whether or not that’s right for your kid is really important.
00:07:40 Carolyn: Exactly. That’s why I talk a lot about taking leadership of your life. I think parents and kids get really caught up on leadership. To me, leadership means making the world a better place around you, right around you. It doesn’t even mean it has to be on a global scale. If you make your family a better place, then you’re taking leadership in your family. If you make yourself a better person, you’re taking leadership in your life. We’re all responsible for making ourselves a better person, and when we make ourselves a better person, we’re taking leadership of the world because then we’re contributing to a better world. Leadership doesn’t have to have a title. It can be just being a leader in your own life, and your own family and your own community.
Christine: Yes. Yes. I like to say be the CEO of your life.
Christine: No one else is going to do it for you, and you may not get to be the CEO of a corporation, but you have your own life to that with.
Carolyn: Who wants to be? Seriously.
Christine: I know. Right? Our own life is enough. Let’s get that one down before we run everyone else’s, and our kids. This is for moms, let’s be the CEO of our own life, so we can do the best for our kids and help them to be the leader of their own life.
00:08:58 Carolyn: That’s the best kind of parent, when you show them that you are the CEO of your own life. When you show them that you’re taking care of yourself, emotionally, physically and mentally, then they learn by example, rather than you’re having to run their lives.
Christine: So true. It’s wonderful. I’m thinking you don’t think there’s like, a magic number of extracurriculars that should be on application? Or do you?
Carolyn: I have this philosophy, there’s this big push right now to have a spike in extracurriculars, that I have a problem with because then kids feel like starting at 14 years old, that they have to figure out what they want to be, so they can figure out what they want to major in, so they can figure out what they need to be doing extracurricularly, starting at 14 years old. I find that to be very, very sad, and I have a lot of issues with it.
Christine: I agree with you.
00:09:46 Carolyn: If that’s natural for them, then great. I’m all for it. But so many kids are fabricating that now, and they’re kind of like curating their lives to have this application. There’s other kids who feel the pressure to be so super well-rounded. I call it, I take kind of a combination, and I call it star-shaped. Find the four or five things in your life that are really important to you, that mean a lot to you, and make yourself into a star. Be star-shaped. That’s kind of my compromise between the spike and the well-rounded. If you’re spikey, good. Go for it. Be totally spikey. There’s nothing wrong with that. If you’re well-rounded and you want to be captain every club, then president every club, then go for it. That’s you, too. But if you’re not, if you’re trying to just like find a way to find your life, and figure out who you are, then do that, and think about being a star, four or five little spikes, that help you move forward.
Christine: I love that. I’ve never heard that before. I love it.
Carolyn: I made it up. Not just now.
00:10:52 Christine: It’s fantastic. It’s really good. It’s interesting. I homeschooled my daughter, and it wasn’t something that was like I went in going I’m going to homeschool. I was thrown into it, like this is your only option kind of thing. I did find that a lot of things were outside of normal, in the box. The things that other people wouldn’t consider activities, we did. As you were talking, I could picture the points in her life coming out.
Christine: It’s a really, really good one. I like that.
Carolyn: Yes. I’m glad you like it.
Christine: This next question, I think I know what you’re going to say. I don’t know what you’re going to say. It’s been good. My next question is for the mothers who have the introverted child, who needs to come home, recharge their batteries from all the social time they’ve had in school during the day. Maybe after their school days they head right to a video game, or they knit, or they read. Something that could be viewed as very solitary. So, although many, I know, some parents will be like, yeah, but my kids are social online. I know. I know. Any way, here’s the question, if that’s my kid, should I be concerned about their lack of participation in school activities and clubs?
00:12:03 Carolyn: That question comes up a lot on Reddit, too. Let me just say first of all, something about video games. If your kid is a solid video game player, and it’s something that they’ve really kind of perfected and gotten really strong at, colleges are looking to create video game teams, and a lot of money is being made out there in video game world, with League of Legends and, I don’t know, I don’t know the names of all of them. That is a path for sure, and that can be a spike. I have always told kids, and I encourage my private students to write down video game playing as an extracurricular. Having said that, one of my children was an hours-long video game player, and it was concerning to me. It wasn’t concerning me as far as college applications go, because I kind of new that we would be able to figure that out, otherwise. I always feel like the kid should apply to college as the person he is, or she is. That wasn’t my concern. My concern was that my child was spending too much time playing video games, period, as a person, a human in the world. That was actually when I started coming up with this getting involved thing.
Christine: Got you.
00:13:10 Carolyn: It’s great. Play video games, but make sure you’re doing these other things also. Make sure you’re involved in your life, emotionally, physically, mentally. Make sure you’re involved in your family, not just sitting and playing video games. Offer to do the dishes, bake that, or whatever it is that you want to do, that shows your involvement. Make sure you’re involved in your school in some way, however it is that you want to figure that out, even it it’s an independent project, and make sure you’re involved in your community. As long as you’re doing those things, then play video games all you want, outside of those things. Having said that, as long as it’s something that’s interesting to you. An admissions officer from University of Chicago, who I was talking to a few years ago, told me don’t try to figure out what we want on your application, because as soon as you think you’ve figured it out, we’re going to change our minds, and it’s going to be completely different. Five years ago, or seven years ago, probably playing video games was something they would have looked down upon. Now, it’s not. Now, they think oh, cool, because we’ve got to fill our team. Kids are getting recruited for it. You have to kind of go with who you are, and if it’s something that interests you and keeps you going and makes you want to wake up in the morning, go for it. As long as you’re involved in your life in other ways, also.
Christine: Love it. Wonderful. Great advice. I didn’t know about the video games, like the teams.
00:14:29 Carolyn: Yes. Yes. There are colleges out there making teams, and there are kids out there making a lot of money playing on professional teams.
Christine: Wow. Okay.
Carolyn: My son, when he was a video game player, ended up getting a Turner Broadcasting internship simply because of all that time he had spent playing video games in high school, and in college, a little bit, on his match, because they were looking to expand their video game channels. When he was applying for internships, they told him that. He was oh, cool, I can like, tell you all about it, I know everything, I’ve played for hours. He was so excited to call and tell me about that, because he was like, mom, remember when you kept telling me to get off the stupid computer all the time.
Christine: I know. It always comes back to us.
Carolyn: I know. Yes.
00:15:18 Christine: That’s fantastic. Those are all my big questions I have for you. Now, I have some that are just popping into my head. Do you have a most unique activity that you remember somebody using in the college admission process?
Carolyn: I hate the word unique.
Christine: Okay. What word would you use?
Carolyn: I’m banning it. I’m banning it from college admissions. No. I honestly don’t. I don’t think there are unique activities any more. I think that these Gen Z kids are so talented and so creative, and so interested in life and in the world around them, that I see kids doing all kinds of amazing things. I mean, like kids who organize March for Our Lives, I think that’s incredible, but it’s not unique, there’s a bunch of them. Internships are a dime a dozen now. I’m trying to think of the things that really stand out to me. No. Honestly, I can’t, because there are so many kids doing so many amazing things, that for me what I like to see are the kids who are doing what they want to do. The one thing that I don’t see often, that I encourage a lot, is getting a job. I mean, like a real teenage summer job, making smoothies, flipping burgers, chasing kids around a pool. William Fitzsimmons, the Dean of Admissions at Harvard talked about that a few years ago, and he has it on his website, where he was, you know what, I just want to see teenagers doing old fashioned teenage stuff, and stop the arms race, of the super-teenager.
00:16:56 Christine: Right.
Carolyn: That’s something that I don’t see often, are kids who just have a job. But that shows so many different aspects to admissions officers, in addition to making yourself into a better person. It shows resiliency. It shows leadership. It shows responsibility. It shows your willingness to get out of your comfort zone a little bit and be around people you might not ever be around again in your life. What I found is that the kids, even if they don’t need the money, the kids who put themselves out there for those jobs, do have interesting outcomes when it comes to writing their essays, because they have a whole different world to write about in their essays, that they might not have ever had. There’s a difference between going to work where you have a boss who is paying you hourly, versus going to an internship, where you’re not getting paid. There’s a big difference in the expectations of what they expect you to be doing. Your expectation of what you know you have to be doing, when you’re getting paid by somebody. I think it’s a good experience for kids. That is something I had. All three of my kids had jobs every summer and often during the school year, too.
Christine: That’s really good advice. Get a job.
00:18:07 Carolyn: Yes. That’s my first thing. Whenever kids come to me and say what do I need to do for extracurriculars, I’m always get a job, and then, find an independent project, and then, I go into my whole get involved with your life.
Christine: Love it. Love it. It’s great. Is there anything else you’d like to share about that topic in particular?
Carolyn: Here’s the thing that I say to pretty much every kid that comes in, because I often have kids on Reddit who haven’t had a lot of privilege. A lot of our kids on Reddit are coming from schools where they don’t have great college counseling, because they’re just overwhelmed with too many students, and there are first generation kids and low income kids. These parents haven’t had the experiences to be able to help them. They’ll come in and they’ll say I don’t have any extracurriculars because I have to work, or I don’t have any extracurriculars because I have to take care of grandma every day after school. What I have to tell them is those are your extracurriculars.
Christine: Yes. Yes.
00:19:04 Carolyn: What I say is keep in mind, anything you do outside of your classwork, your test prep and your homework, is considered an extracurricular. Think about that, too, as you’re spending your life, do you want it to be playing videos eight hours a day?
Carolyn: If that’s what it is, that’s what it is. Do you want it to be that your surfing Youtube videos and watching the Kardashians all day long? Because maybe that’s something you want to go into. Maybe you want to go into fashion, or not. Whatever it is you’re spending your time on, those are your extracurriculars. That’s jobs. That’s your family and home responsibilities. That’s elderly or child care. That’s your personal projects, that’s you interests, your hobbies, working out at the gym, whatever it is. Independent research. In addition to all the more typical things that we think of for high school kids, like in and out of school community service, clubs, sports. Those things that you’re doing, that’s what your extracurriculars are. I think a lot of people don’t understand that. A lot of people don’t get that oh, I have to take care of grandma every day, or my school doesn’t have clubs.
Christine: Right. Yes.
00:20:06 Carolyn: You don’t have to be in a club to have an extracurricular. It’s being involved in some way. You just write down what you did.
Christine: Yes. You’re so much more involved in life that way. It’s funny because you think there are parents who think well, my kid has straight A’s, my kid’s the president of the student body. My kid has done the vice-president of this, but they’re not the only one. Like you said before. That is your child is not the only one like that, that meets all of those qualifications, and it might be why they didn’t get into Harvard, because they’re not the only one.
Carolyn: Right. If you think about it, there’s 30,000 high schools in the United States. There’s 30,000 valedictorians, there’s 30,000 class presidents, and then, if you add on the vice-president, and the salutatorian, that’s a lot of kids. There’s only so many spaces. I think there’s 10,000 spaces. We have so many kids trying to get into that one little place, and that’s why I think it’s more important to be focused on your life, than about getting into any certain college. In fact, I came up with, yesterday, this is one of my new slogans. You’ll be the first one to hear it, but it’s switching getting in, I’m now going to start calling it getting inward.
00:21:24 Carolyn: Figuring out who you are, because that’s more important than getting in.
Christine: It is.
Carolyn: Getting inward doesn’t mean sitting and staring at your belly button all the time. It means also figuring out what you want to do, to be involved. I think that’s important for kids to understand. I know a lot of kids have to have jobs, and I think that they have to understand that that is their extracurricular.
Christine: I love getting inward. I don’t remember, I think it was one of my episodes about the major, and I’ve just seen so many people go through life and you do the next thing, you do the next thing, and you’re a lawyer, or you’re an accountant, or an author, whatever it is your career is, and then, your career ends for some reason. Maybe you’re sick. Maybe you get fired. Maybe you just don’t like it. If you don’t know who you are inward, that inward stuff, and you don’t know who you are, you have an identity crisis because you think you’re your job, and you’re not. I feel so strongly about this, I love that you’re doing this. If our kids can figure out who they are, before they even go to college, or tech school, or wherever they go, they are so ahead in life.
Christine: Everyone should know this.
00:22:41 Carolyn: Yes. This is why I started doing college counseling and college consulting, because I felt like it was an opportunity to help kids figure this out. There are so many kids who are literally suicidal over the stress of the whole process and about getting in, that what I want them to understand is that it doesn’t matter whether they get into a certain school or not. Extracurriculars are not about getting into college. Extracurriculars are about developing into the person you are, and helping yourself find that. It’s just become this super random weird checkbox that I hate, with things to do, and it’s really not. If you want to make a checkbox, think about it with your life.
Christine: Carolyn, maybe my child isn’t involved with their community much, do you have some suggestions on how they would go about doing that? Or some ideas?
00:23:38 Carolyn: Yes. I do. I think it’s important to be involved in your community, not necessarily for college purposes. For example, my own child was super involved in his community, but refused to put it on his college admissions applications because he felt like that was, I’ll use his word, gross. However, I feel like it’s important to be involved with your community, and I don’t think it’s gross to put it on your application, because it is what you’re doing, if you’re doing something. Here are few suggestions that pretty much any kid can do. Go to a food bank and make sandwiches. That’s a simple thing and they’re always looking for helpers. Go to a retirement home. This is where I think you can really make a big impact. If you’re a musician, go to retirement home and play your music on Sunday afternoons, no matter what instrument it is, even it’s your voice. But if you’re not a musician, there’s all sorts of other things you can do. You can play games with them. Awesome. Great. The activity that my kids did, that I felt was really meaningful and this did not come from me, it was from one of their teachers, that they would go and they would write down life stories. They would meet with the people and they would write down the life stories, then they would go home and put those stories into song form, and then go back and present the songs, and sing them. But you can do it in all sorts of ways. You can take that home and write another piece of paper in pretty writing, and do art around it and frame it, and give it to the family. Or you can just simply type it up and give it to the family. It doesn’t have to be anything too impressive or fancy. There’s all sorts of ways to do it. You can turn it into a poem and give it back to them. It’s such a treasure for the families to have this life story of someone. You’ll be amazed that they’ll hear stories that they never heard before.
00:25:19 Carolyn: They’re just willing to sit and talk. I think that’s such a treasure and a way to learn about the world, and history, also. Something that I do in honor of my mom, and that my kids have always helped me with, and I have the kids on Reddit doing it, too, is just to make goody bags for homeless people you see on street corners. You don’t have to be any certain age to do this. You just put in whatever you think might be helpful, we encourage bottled water, nuts, maybe some wipes or whatever it is that you think would be helpful to them. You don’t have to spend a lot of money on it. Whenever you see somebody on a street corner, give it to them. I usually put a little note in it, that just says, hey, somebody cares about you, and somebody’s thinking about you. We know life’s hard, but we just wanted you to know that there are people who care. I talked about the walking dogs and petting kittens at an animal shelter. There’s all sorts of ways to be involved that don’t have to be like, official.
00:26:10 Carolyn: You can still write it down. You can still put it on your application.
Christine: I think that’s important for parents to know.
Carolyn: Yes. There are so many other ideas out there beyond the few simple ones that I have, that people have. Those are some that I feel are easy for kids to just immediately jump into.
Christine: Love it. They’re great. I love the goody bags, too. As homeschoolers, we did a lot of visiting retirement center, and played bingo with them, and such.
Carolyn: They love that. Yes.
Christine: It was really nice. It was a good time.
Carolyn: They’re so grateful for the attention.
Christine: They are.
Carolyn: So many of them are so lonely.
Christine: Yes. I know you’re working on a couple of exciting things, so please, tell us about both your upcoming book and your app?
00:26:53 Carolyn: Okay. Great. My book is actually getting typecast right now, or ready to be printed, which is super exciting. It’s called, “Hey AdmissionsMom, Real Talk From Reddit.” Basically, it’s just conversations between me and the kids on Reddit, or between the kids and the kids, or the kids and other helpful adults. I have about 100 of their fellow ATC kids out of the 90,000, who agreed to be part of the book. I divided it into subjects, so it’s easy to just to turn to extracurriculars, or turn to essays, because on Reddit, it’s hard to find exactly what you’re looking for, because we’re constantly streaming and moving on. It’s divided into subject matter. It’s easy to just flip to that subject and read about that subject. You’ll find my opinion, my philosophy, but in addition to that, you’ll find the kids and what the kids are saying, and how the kids are helping each other, which is so amazing to me and what I love the most about, separate is watching the kids as they learn and help each other with this process. That’s the book. It should be out hopefully within the next month, finger’s crossed.
Christine: Oh. Congratulations!
00:28:01 Carolyn: Yes. Yes. Thank you. I’m so excited about that. The app is called CollegeVizzy. We have the landing page for it right now, at www.CollegeVizzy.com. It should also be out in beta version within the next month or so. College Vizzy started on the subreddit, and my first year I was on there, I was having at this time, kids were trying to decide between colleges and they were having to decide without ever visiting. I was trying to figure out how could they get the feeling of what it was like to visit, without ever visiting, because they would say, okay, I’ve gone and I’ve seen all the pictures. I’ve watched all the videos.
00:28:38 Carolyn: I’ve read what the reviews are on Google and Niche.com, and I still don’t know what it feels like. I want to know what it feels like. I had this idea of experience sharing between the kids who go to the colleges to visit, then to share what it feels like with the kids who can’t go. The kids who go to the colleges, I have 10 tasks for them to do, basically, on the college campus, that are the things that I tell them to do all the time, anyway, on the separate, when they go to college visits. For example, just like sitting on a bench, and putting your phone away, and just listening to the conversations around you, then writing them down. The kids who can’t visit, I’m hopeful that, if the app works, and is successful, if you can’t go visit, Trinity University in San Antonio, but two or three hundred kids have, then you can read through that enough to get a feel for what it was like to be able to be there. That’s what the app is. It’s kind of a social media experience sharing app, for what it’s like to visit for the kids who can’t.
Christine: Oh. I love it! It’s so expensive to visit.
00:29:47 Carolyn: It’s very expensive to visit, and prohibitively for many people, whether they’re around the world somewhere, or just on the other side of the United States.
Carolyn: Even if it’s driving distance, at three or four hours, sometimes their parents can’t take off.
Christine: It’s true. Yes.
Carolyn: To take them. I felt like it was a need for kids, and also, this lack of being able to visit prevents a lot of kids from being able to apply early decision, which is becoming a big issue these days, when schools are taking more than half their class in early decisions.
Carolyn: This way I’m hoping we can get a feel for it a little bit more.
Christine: Yes. It’s great. I love that idea! It’s fantastic. It will be great.
00:30:31 Carolyn: Hopefully, that will be out soon.
Christine: It’s will be great, not if. It’s going to be great. There’s a need. I know. Before you go, I have the four questions that I ask every guest of mine. They’re the most important, of course. Waffles or pancakes?
Carolyn: I would go with pancakes; however, I’m a Texas girl and so, in Texas we have breakfast tacos. I’m going to have to be a little bit different and go to breakfast tacos.
Christine: What is a breakfast taco? Is it an actual taco?
Carolyn: The breakfast one, you take a tortilla, and you put some eggs and salsa, and I like avocado and cheese in mine, and you roll it up and eat it.
Christine: That sounds really good. Maybe I come try one.
Carolyn: Yes. They’re delicious.
Christine: To be honest, I don’t eat wheat right now, or flour, so I don’t either anyway.
Carolyn: I actually take the tortilla off my breakfast taco.
Christine: What is one item you couldn’t live without, and why?
00:31:32 Carolyn: I gave a lot of thought to this question. A lot of things popped in my head. The first thing that popped in my head was diet Coke, but I’m gonna move on from that one. I think it really is meditation. I think the importance of being able to sit and be with myself, everyday, for even five minutes, and sometimes, it literally is only five minutes. Letting everything settle in, and turning inward, and finding the observer of my life, not the one who’s always doing things, and moving, and thinking, and craziness, but the observer. The one who kind of sits back and watches everything. Tapping into that is really important. I feel like when I don’t do it, and there are days I don’t, I can tell a difference. I can tell the difference in how I approach the world in my frenetic, oh, my God, oh, my God, versus I’m gonna just sit. Even five minutes will often make a big difference. I’m going to go with meditation for that, even though that’s not really a thing, but it is.
Christine: No. It is. It’s important. I like that. Good answer. Not that you’re being judged or graded. It’s all good. Your all-time favorite movie, and any particular reason?
Carolyn: “Forrest Gump.”
Christine: “Forrest Gump?”
00:32:57 Carolyn: “Forrest Gump,” for sure. There’s a few reasons, first of all, because it’s a family tradition movie. It’s one we watch on our driving trips across the country, so we all have it memorized in my family, the whole movie. I have this great family connection to it, just like when my kids were little watching that movie over and over. Also, it spoke to me, and it was a movie I wanted to be part of my kids’ life, because it was such an example of somebody living his life for himself. Living a good life, not worried about the opinions of others, really just living the life that he felt like he needed to live. If you really pay attention to the philosophy of the book and to Forrest, himself, he’s such a deep thinker in so many ways but yet, he doesn’t stop that. He doesn’t let that stop him from getting out and fulfilling his life’s goals at the time.
Christine: Right. Yes. I need to re-watch it now. It so good. It is so good.
Carolyn: It’s insane.
Christine: I listen to the music, actually it’s on my work playlist.
Carolyn: I do too. Yes. I was going to say the music is amazing, too.
00:34:01 Christine: I’m wondering if this is going to be meditation, too. You have an hour of alone time, no one will bother you, what is your go to thing to do?
Carolyn: I go for a walk. If I have an hour of alone time, and I’m gonna put on my walking shoes and put on my headphones, and get out. I like to be in nature. I have a bayou not far from here, and there’s a lot of birds and wildflowers, occasionally, and fish in the water. I just love to be in that and then, I also love music, so I listen to my music, or podcasts, or books, kind of depending on my mood. I kind of rotate among those three, or sometimes I just don’t listen to anything, and just pay attention to nature. Yes, it’s for a walk, for sure. But I like to walk for more than an hour, it’s usually two hours.
Christine: Is your weather good most of the year to walk?
Carolyn: In Houston?
Carolyn: In July, August, and September, I have to get up really early, because it’s just too hot during the day. As long as I’m up by 7:00, and walking, it’s good.
Christine: You can walk in January?
Carolyn: Oh, my gosh, yes.
00:35:05 Christine: I mean, I can, it’s just really cold.
Carolyn: Oh, no, no, no. Our weather from October through June is amazing.
Christine: Okay. Hubby and I are always talking about where we want to move to.
Carolyn: I’m wearing shorts in January frequently.
Christine: Nice. Good piece of information, everyone. It’s been fantastic having you join me. I’m so excited that you are here. Thanks for being here. Thanks for all that you do.
Carolyn: Thank you for having me.
Christine: You do so much, and I can’t wait to see what this app does. I’m so excited about it really.
Carolyn: Thank you.
Christine: Thanks for making the transition to college easier on the students and the parents. Well done.
Carolyn: Thank you very, very much. I appreciate being here, and your asking me.
Christine: Wonderful. I’m glad you said yes.
Carolyn: Thanks. Glad you asked me.
00:35:58 Christine: My friend, links to all resources and how to connect to AdmissionsMom will be in my show notes. Check them out on my website youremptynestcoach.com/p19, that’s P for Podcast, and the episode number 19. AdmissionsMom’s handle on Facebook, Instagram and Reddit, is AdmissionsMom, and on Twitter, she’s AdmissionsMom_.
If you’re ready to dig in and create a change in your own life that impacts both you and those around you, I invite you to join my upcoming coaching program. Be sure to get on my waitlist as space is always limited. The questions I have for you in this episode are: Did AdmissionsMom give you a new perspective on extracurriculars? Number two, how do you feel about extracurriculars? Fly on over to our Facebook group, our name is Green Popsicle Sticks. Want to know why? Listen to episode number 17, or head to my website, youremptynestcoach.com/community for links to join our flock. Why should you join our group? Well, the adjustment to not having your kiddos at home full-time isn’t always easy, but it sure can be a ton more fun with a flock of friends. We look forward to seeing you there. As always, I provide content to make you think, my empty nest friend. My hope is that I am able to provide you with thoughts that positively impact your life. You’ll also find show notes for this and every episode on my website.
My next episode’s title is: You’ve Found Future You, Now for the How. If you are a first time listener, or even if you’ve listened before, and you’ve enjoyed this podcast, I have a favor to ask. If you could take the time to subscribe to this podcast, that would be fantastic. It is free, after all. Also, if you have an extra moment to give this podcast a five-star rating, it will help other future empty nest mothers to find it when they need it. Thanks for your time and energy with that, and thanks for listening, my empty nest friend. Remember, you are amazing!
Anne (my guest) and I touched on this in my last episode – how to be the emotional adult in the room. College is a significant change – and when they go far enough away that they can’t stop by for dinner – it is a REALLY SIGNIFICANT change.
You can handle it. I know you can. Take some deep breaths, do some thought work and you’ve got this.
Christine: You are listening to the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast with Coach Christine, episode number 15: Being Brave When Your Child Picks a Non-local School, or Going Far Away to College; How to be The Emotional Adult in The Room. … Today, we are going to chat about what to do when your child goes to college far away. I’m going to make the assumption, for this episode, that the decision has already been made, or it’s being made and finances do not impact the decision. This would also be relevant to your child moving away permanently.
Christine: You are listening to the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast with Coach Christine, episode number 15: Being Brave When Your Child Picks a Non-local School, or Going Far Away to College; How to be The Emotional Adult in The Room. This podcast is for you, a mother who years ago walked away from a career to raise your child. Sure, you’ve been busy volunteering, car pools, maybe part-time work and taking care of everyone. But your main gig, that has been your child. Now, that they are in their later years of high school, the empty nest looms ahead for you and it is freaking you out. I’ve been there and I get it. Together, we’ll turn our freaking out energy into freaking awesome energy.
Hello, my empty nest friend! Before I dive in, this episode has a lot of references to my Empty Nest Prep Series episodes, so if you feel confused at any point, or need a refresher, you may want to go back and listen to those. They begin at episode number 3. Today, we are going to chat about what to do when your child goes to college far away. I’m going to make the assumption, for this episode, that the decision has already been made, or it’s being made and finances do not impact the decision. This would also be relevant to your child moving away permanently.
Guess what this situation means to your life, my empty nest friend? Do you know? Think about your answer? Got it? It means whatever you want it to mean. That answer that you had just a second ago, you decided to have that answer. You chose it. You can choose another answer. How do you feel with the thought that you were just having, about your child being far away? Were you feeling good? If not, you can change your thought. If your thought brings you to a feeling that you don’t want to have, let’s change it.
Grab a piece of paper, or just picture this in your head, if your driving. The circumstance that your child is moving away has absolutely no drama. It is a fact and it is neutral. At the top of the page, I want you to write, or picture, my child is moving away. You can even be specific, my child is moving 15 hours away. My child is moving 2,000 miles away, to Antartica. I’m not saying that’s together, but even if it was, Antarctica, that would be interesting? Wouldn’t it? Anyway, when this circumstance shows up on your doorstep, the doorbell rings in your mind that triggers a thought for you. What thought box, or thought, do you automatically run to? Take five minutes to write down all of the thoughts you are having about your child moving away. All of them. You know the drill by now, no drama, no editing. Write them all down. Look at them. Pick one of the thoughts. Focus on only that thought. How does it make you feel? If you don’t love it, do you want to keep that thought? How can you change your thought to create a feeling that you like?
Let’s say your thought is,”I’m going to miss them so much.” Do you want to have this thought? I had this thought originally. What I found is that thought, for me, created only sadness. When I made a slight variation to the thought, I felt better about the emotion created. I’m going to miss them so much, that thought comes off as 24/7 I will do absolutely nothing, nothing at all, other than miss them. Is that true? Not really, because I sleep, so there’s six hours. I don’t sleep much. I work and need to concentrate on things that distract me. I can turn my original thought into, “I will have moments where I miss them.” This a thought I can believe. I can use it for a bit, and then, I can work on moving forward with more pleasant thoughts such as, “While they’re learning to be independent, I will have moments where I miss them.” I will tell you, I’m almost a bit over one and a half years in with my daughter being out of state. There are tremendous benefits. Your child will learn, they have to, how to be more self-sufficient and independent. From things like food and toiletry items, prescriptions, and that awful first time being sick with no way for mom and dad to visit and help.
Here’s an example: my daughter went from hating to talk on the phone, to being able to handle a fraud charge on her credit card, with no interactions from us. Pretty much just a couple of texts, it happened, and then on follow-up, they’re sending me a new card. This independence and self-sufficiency forces them to mature faster. I can vouch for that. Their friendships that are formed are closer. As friends really need to rely on each other quite a bit when they can’t run home in 15 minutes. With no option to go home on weekends, they learn how to work through boredom, heartbreaks, medical issues, awful food choices and so much more. Your child has the experience of geographical diversity that comes with living in a new area. We all know someone, maybe it’s even you, who has never lived further than a hour from where they grew up. Some personalities thrive like that. But for others, as the years move forward, they only feel less confident to venture out of what they know and where they’re comfortable. This next one’s real. Coming home is special, for them and for you.
Speaking of you, with your child moving away, you have more time to do those hobbies you’ve been putting off. More time to get projects done, and spend time with your partner. More time to get to know you, to plan future you and to crush it. There are negatives, of course, but there are also negatives with staying local. You missed all of the things I just mentioned. The grass is always greener on the other side, if you choose thoughts that can make you feel that way. The goal for you is to allow your child to make the decision that is right for them, free of your feelings and thoughts about how much it will impact your life. No matter what they do, you are responsible for your feelings. They are not. Be the grown up, and be there to help them find the best answer for them, not the best answer for mom. While they are planning their future, you can get to work planning yours. Future you is waiting for you and I created a resource to help you find her. More on that in episode number 13. You’ll find that in my show notes.
The questions I have for you in this episode are: 1) Are you having to deal with this situation? 2) Have you dealt with this situation and do you have advice for others who are about to go through it?
Fly on over to our Empty Nest Flock at youremptynestcoach.com/community to share your answers with the entire flock. Why should you join our flock? The adjustment to not having your kiddos at home full-time isn’t always easy, but it sure can be a ton more fun with a flock of friends. We look forward to seeing you there. As always, I provide content to make you think, my empty nest friend. My hope is that I am able to provide you with the thoughts that impact your life in a positive way. My next episode’s title is: How I Lost Almost 50 Pounds, And I’m Still Losing! I am! So exciting!
I have some answered questions from a prior episode. This question comes from episode number 8: if you could give your past 19-year-old self advice, what would it be? One member shares, don’t let other people talk you out of something you really want to do. Great advice! So true. Michelle shares you will always be able to handle every situation in your life, so instead of stressing over it, embrace the challenge. You will be stronger in the end. Love that! Don’t forget to sign up for my free Thursday Thoughts About email. Sign up and every Thursday, you will receive a thought from me, and I also share Your Empty Nest Coach updates. If you have a question you would like me to answer on the podcast, you may submit it in my Empty Nest Flock or email me at email@example.com. Thank you so much for listening, my friend! Remember, you are amazing!
Hello, my future empty nest friend. I’m jumping in your feed, yet again, this week – to make a quick announcement about an upcoming college fair that I will attending in April.
If you are in the Greater Philadelphia area; have a rising sophomore, junior or senior; and want the opportunity to meet with college admission counselors from over 300 colleges and universities – this is THE place for you.
Hello, my future empty nest friend. I’m jumping in your feed, yet again, this week – to make a quick announcement about an upcoming college fair that I will attending in April.
If you’re attending that fair – when mom (or Dad) starts to get anxious about all that is involved, head over to my table – I’ll show you how to subscribe to my free podcast online, if you haven’t already; and I’m happy to listen. I’ve been where you are, my friend.
You are going to be okay. It is a big transition ahead but with the right resources, you’ll be a pro in no time.
Links with more details may be found on my website : YourEmptyNestCoach.com/MainLineFair2019
I hope to see you there!
Thanks for listening! Have a great day and remember – You. Are. Amazing.