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
Christine: You are listening to the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast with Coach Christine, episode number 14: What To Do Before Going to College: Now That the Decision Has Been Made, What Should We Do Next? … Hello, my empty nest friend! Super excited! This is my first episode with a guest for the entire episode. One full guest. My guest today is Anne Vaccaro Brady. Anne is the founder of Parents’ Guide to the College Puzzle, a blog that helps families navigate the college admission process and freshman year experience. … Anne is here to share with you her list of most important things that you need to keep on your radar once your child has officially decided what college they will be calling home for the upcoming years.
Christine: You are listening to the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast with Coach Christine, episode number 14: What To Do Before Going to College: Now That the Decision Has Been Made, What Should We Do Next? 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! Super excited! This is my first episode with a guest for the entire episode. One full guest. My guest today is Anne Vaccaro Brady. Anne is the founder of Parents’ Guide to the College Puzzle, a blog that helps families navigate the college admission process and freshman year experience. She is the mom of two college graduates and her goal is to alleviate much of the stress parents experience when their children apply to college.
Anne shared some fun facts about her with me. In her younger years, she was the advice columnist for the teenage magazine, Sassy. She is a writer and has authored three young adult contemporary novels. Her third one is currently on submission to agents. I’m sending her really good vibes on that. Anne also, currently works with high school seniors on their college applications and essays. Anne enjoys helping her clients shape their unique interests and talents into a compelling package to share with their perspective schools. Anne is here to share with you her list of most important things that you need to keep on your radar once your child has officially decided what college they will be calling home for the upcoming years.
If you’re driving, or are on the treadmill, don’t worry. I have created a list for you with all of Anne’s, and a few of my recommendations. You find this downloadable checklist in my show notes, on my website, youremptynestcoach.com/P14. That’s P for podcast, and episode number 14, P14. I’m going to turn this over to today’s expert, Anne.
Anne: Thank you, Christine. Let’s start with orientation. Number one: I call this a family affair, because at least one parent is usually required to attend. Most colleges schedule their sessions throughout late spring and summer. Because your student makes their class schedule during orientation, I suggest signing up for the earliest session that fits your family’s schedule. Remind your student, this is very important, to read their college emails, because that’s where they’ll find any requirements and details on orientation, like that all-important online placement test they must take before hand, which my son did not do, until he arrived.
Number two: Second-guessing. It’s perfectly normal for your teenager to wonder if they picked the right school, right after you sent the check with the deposit. Whether they chose to go away or commute, they may doubt their decision. A lot of it is fear of the unknown. College is portrayed as that first step into adulthood, and that’s scary. Be supportive. Remind your teen of the reasons why they chose this school, and that they’re ready for this, but this is not the time to share how much you’re going to miss them and add to their anxiety.
Christine: Isn’t that the truth? Oh, my goodness. We had that and my daughter, she didn’t have many college options because she went four years early, so there weren’t many options, and they decided to allow the college to be co-ed, and it wasn’t that way when she started the application process, so it turned into this huge “what am I doing.” It was a little earlier in the process, it wasn’t March or April, but it was December or January when we came up on this and we actually went and looked at local colleges for her, and then she was finally, “Yes, this is where I need to be.” We had that, totally.
Anne: Yes. It’s very normal. Sometimes they have it after orientation, once they’re there. That can happen also. We’ve had that one. They all get themselves back on track —
Christine: They do.
Anne: — and, remember why they wanted to go there.
Christine: Yes. Us moms need to keep our own emotions in check.
Christine: For sure, because it’s not a time to make them feel bad about leaving home.
Anne: No. You do not say, “you’re going to be so far away, what am I going to do without you?”
Anne: You keep that all to yourself.
Christine: That’s true.
Anne: Be the adult in the room.
Anne: Number three: You have to keep your senior focused. Final grades are reported to their college, so they really can’t slack off, and if they’re taking any AP and IB courses, those exams matter, because they can receive that college credit for all their hard work. They need to be focused.
Anne: Number four: Check that those AP and IB scores are sent to the college. This is important for making their class schedule at orientation. You don’t want to sign up for Calc A and B, if you already took it in high school and received a score that should get you credit at this college. They can confirm or request their scores were sent through the College Board, or their IB accounts online.
Christine: Yes. Do you have more on that?
Anne: No. Unless you want to add?
Christine: Yes. What I want to add is my daughter had dual enrollment credits, and what we found is that even though the credits were transferred and they came through admission, they didn’t automatically make it to the Registrar’s Office. We actually had to follow-up, do that extra step. We didn’t get it by September. Luckily, it didn’t affect her GenEd’s but it is something to be on top of, that not all colleges automatically do that. You would think they would, but they don’t.
Anne: That’s true. You might be able to check your student account before you go to orientation to see if they actually list anything there as well.
Anne: If you have a printout of your scores, or the dual enrollment papers, you might be able to bring those as well, to show your counselor or your advisor, who you’re working with at orientation.
Christine: Yes. Looking back, I think that’s what I would do. I would just send her with a copy of all of that.
Anne: Yes. It’s true. I think that is the way to go, to have it confirmed. Yes. They at least know who to follow-up with on the other end.
Anne: Number five is moving off the waitlist. If your senior was placed on a waitlist, they should write a letter to that college stating why this is their top choice school, and add any awards or achievements they’ve had since they originally applied. They should also place a deposit on their second choice school, because you want to be sure they have a college to attend in the fall. They won’t hear if they’ve been accepted off the waitlist until after May 1st, which is National Decision Day. If they have, then they need to inform the school where they placed a deposit and other schools where they’re on the waitlist that they will not be attending those schools.
Christine: This is good. I feel like there could be a whole episode on waitlists.
Anne: Yes. Number six is medical forms and other health matters. Colleges usually require your student has a physical and specific vaccinations before they come to campus, so schedule that physical and make sure the vaccinations are included. Sooner, rather than later. You want all this taken care of before your child goes to college in August, and remember to bring the forms from the college to that appointment, so that they get filled out in time.
Anne: At that visit, your child should talk with their doctor about staying healthy at college and if they’re on any prescriptions medications that they take regularly, whether they should stay on them, or go off and why. You and your teen should make a plan about if you have prescription refills, how they’re going to get those and maybe, if they need allergy shots, where they’re going to get those on campus, so that’s all taken care of in advance, and they’re not scrambling once they get there.
You might also want to consider getting a healthcare proxy, because if your student is over 18, they are considered an adult by the college and the medical community. You don’t have to be informed if they have a visit to the hospital, receive any medical treatment, any mental health services or having any medical issues. Having a healthcare proxy can help if you are called and they know that you have that information. Usually, your student can give them your information. They can say, “you can call my parents,” but some kids don’t want their parents to know, so be aware that could happen.
Number seven is finalize how to pay the college bill. Confirm where the money’s coming from. If you have a 529 plan, if you have savings, CDs, if grandma and grandpa are helping out, if your child has savings, any scholarships or loans, know what’s available and how you’re going to access it. If you or your student plans to take any federal or private loans, this is really important, only borrow as much as you need. I always advise people to use loans as a last ditch effort. You don’t want to put yourselves in debt if you don’t need to be. Your teen may receive scholarships or grants from their college. They have to go online to accept those. If they don’t press the little button that says they accept, they won’t receive them. That’s very important. They can find that on their account and their billing site. If your student is receiving any scholarships from local organizations, keep on that organization to get that money, because you want it to help pay the tuition bill. If it’s coming June or July, you really need to be on top of them if the money has not already been sent to the college, or if you have not received the check directly. Check the college’s website to learn how you actually pay the tuition bill. It’s going to be online. It’s either going to be withdraw from an account, a checking or savings account. It could be moved from a 529 account. It could be a credit card. There are other options. Colleges also have monthly plans, as well as semester plans, so become familiar with that now, so that it’s not a scramble in the end, come August.
Anne: That’s what I have, so back to you Christine.
Christine: That is great advice. There is something Anne said earlier, that I cannot stress enough, is to have your child check their email.
Christine: I know in this day and age, my daughter does not check her email.
Christine: It’s not a normal thing. Also, something I’ve noticed is that a lot of students have their primary email is their school, like their high school, and their high school will block the emails coming from a college.
Anne: That’s interesting.
Christine: I have seen that, so make sure that you are getting all your emails. If you feel like you should be getting something from a college and you’re not, you may want to give them a call and just see what email address they have and that it’s going through. That email is really important to check.
Anne: Yes. I heard some families actually set up a specific email for college emails that both the parent and the child can have access to.
Christine: That’s what we did.
Anne: That can be helpful as well.
Christine: It worked really well. Yes. It worked good, because parents are checking it.
Christine: I do know that.
Christine: I have three to add to Anne’s wonderful list. My first is make a communication plan, and this sounds really formal, but it’s not. It comes from the fact that I have a lot of friends with their children in college, that their child goes off to college and then, they don’t hear from them. They don’t get a text. They don’t get anything and they’re highly frustrated over the fact that they’re not getting these texts. What happens is, the parent has an idea of how their child should communicate with them, but that has not been communicated to the child.
Christine: Especially, if you’re paying for this college.
Christine: I think it’s fair for you to say, “hey, I need to know you’re alive, text me every week and just say something,” or I need more than, “hi, I’m good.” Give me a little more detail. Whatever that is for you, I think it’s really important to do ahead of time, and it will save everyone a headache at the end. Some families have group family texts, which is nice.
Anne: Yes. We didn’t.
Christine: Because the siblings who aren’t in school, you can all keep up. I love that idea.
Anne: You should also check their social media accounts, because that will tell you if they got up that day and made it to class on time, sometimes.
Christine: That is true.
Anne: Talk a little and just see if they like something or posted something, and that might give you an indication of how they’re doing that day.
Christine: That is great.
Anne: I also have friends who schedule, if they want to do phone calls, it was Sunday at 2:00, was their time. I had one who texted a lot and called a lot, and one who didn’t. That was an interesting approach.
Christine: It is. Yes. You work it out for the child, because they’re all different.
Anne: Yes. They’re all different.
Christine: Luckily, mine will FaceTime and we get all caught up on everything, but I know everyone’s child isn’t like that.
Anne: Right. Yes.
Christine: My next point, or thing to do, is get the school’s calendar on your schedule. Most schools you’ll be able to find this on their website, multiple years out, so you can find when the move-in day is, when the start of the semester and the end of the semester, the winter breaks, if there’s an extra May term. All those things, so you can start to plan things like your vacations. If they’re out-of-state you need to think about travel arrangements, as well as doctor appointments, because if they come home, you’re going to find your winter break is a lot of doctor appointments you’re filling in.
Anne: Yes. You can find that, it’s listed as the Academic Calendar. I think that’s what it’s called. You can search the website in the little search box, and also, keep in mind, because my kids did have to fly home from college, and we would do flights early, then after the freshman year, we learned that even though the holiday break is scheduled for the Wednesday before, or December 15th, or something, some professors will cancel class December 12th and 13th. We’ve learned that sometimes it’s okay to schedule it a little bit sooner if it fits our schedule or our price.
Christine: That is a good point.
Anne: Keep that in mind. You might schedule something, or your students plan on coming home, and they’ll go, “oh, I can actually be done two days early.”
Anne: It’s okay if they’re getting a ride with their friend, but if they’re flying, it’s a little more complicated.
Christine: That is. That is great advice. Yes. I’m usually picking mine up and I drive a long time, so I’m like, I’m sorry, you’re stuck there, until I can get there.
Christine: That is good. My last thing is to make a fun to-do list. Just think out five years from today, and what are things that you wish you would have done now, that you can do together? Whether it’s a hobby, whether it’s binge-watching a movie, whether it’s going to a museum you always said you would go to, but you never did. Plan things like that to do before they go, because everything changes a little when they go to college. It’s not bad, it’s just very different. It’s a good time to capture that. I’d also recommend doing date times for you and your partner, so go out with your daughter, and then, have your husband or partner take them out and do something solo. I think that’s a really good time to make memories.
Anne: My other piece to add to that is realize that just because your child’s in college, doesn’t mean family vacations end. So many parents say, “oh, my kid’s in college, they’re never going to want to go on vacation.” Kids will always want to go on a free trip, so don’t worry about it. They still come along, generally.
Christine: That is great. It is awesome. I love this list so much, Anne. I wish I had it when we were at this point. It would have helped me tremendously.
Anne: Me, too.
Christine: Yes. It’s good you do this. Thank you.
Anne: Yes. My pleasure.
Christine: Since Anne is my first full episode guest, she gets to be the first person to answer my questions that every guest will get going forward. Anne, waffles or pancakes?
Anne: Pancakes with blueberries.
Christine: Nice. What is one item you couldn’t live without and why?
Anne: My iPhone, because it carries everything, my music collection, my pictures, an easy way to communicate with my family. I can turn it off when I want to, and not communicate with people when I don’t want to. I feel like it holds your whole life. You have access to your news. The music thing is always important to me. It’s amazing I can carry that in one little container.
Christine: That’s awesome.
Anne: It’s my iPhone.
Christine: Excellent. Number four, you have an hour of alone time, no one will bother you, what is your go-to thing to do?
Anne: It’s a choice usually, between watch a show no one in my family is interested in, or read a book.
Christine: Nice. Wonderful. Thank you, again, Anne, for being here and for being my guinea pig. It’s been such a pleasure.
Anne: It’s been fun. Thanks so much for having me, Christine.
Christine: Anne with an E. Keep that, and both links are in my show notes, and don’t forget to download our checklist, youremptynestcoach.com/P14. The questions I have for you in this episode are:
1) Do you have a question about what is next in the college process, that you would like addressed in an upcoming episode?
2) Do you have a tip to share with us, before getting ready for college?
Fly on over to our Empty Nest Flock at youremptynestcoach.com/community to share your answers with the entire flock. You’ll find everything you need to connect with the flock there. Feel free to also answer the question on your phone’s voice memo app and email it to podcast AT youremptynestcoach.com for potential inclusion in an upcoming episode. I also have a new Facebook community, just for this podcast. It’s at emptynestpodcast is our group’s name. It looks like this may be our flock’s home base moving forward, so come on over and join in.
Why should you join our flock? The adjustment to not having your kiddos at home full-time isn’t always easy, but sure can be a ton more fun with a flock of friends. I look forward to seeing you there, and it is free. 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 impact your life in a positive way.
In my next episode, I am going to talk about being brave when your child picks a school that, to you, is just so far away. Let’s talk about being that emotional adult in the room.
Thank you so much for listening, my friend, and remember, you are amazing!
Christine: You are listening to the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast with Coach Christine, episode number 10, What Your College Enrollment Management Office Wants You to Know About Admission and Financial Aid. … I thought I would take advantage, for you, of the fact that I have access to some amazing admission and financial aid staff members.
Christine: You are listening to the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast with Coach Christine, episode number 10, What Your College Enrollment Management Office Wants You to Know About Admission and Financial Aid. This podcast is for you, a mother who years ago walked away from a career to raise your child. Sure, you’ve been busy with volunteering, car pools, maybe part-time work and taking care of everyone. But your main gig, that’s been your child. Now, that they are in their later years of high school, the empty nest looms ahead for you and it’s 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! Episode 10 is here. I’m in double digits and I am super excited. This episode is a bit of a crossover episode for me. This is because I spend my 9:00 to 5:00-ish hours working in the Enrollment Management Division at Ursinus College. Ursinus is a College that Changes Livescollege. If you’ve never heard of that, check out the link in my show notes. Ursinus is a private liberal arts college, located in Collegeville, Pennsylvania. The campus is beautiful. The faculty is engaged with students and we have a brand new, gorgeous Science Center. Ursinus College is definitely worth checking out, if you’ve never heard of us. There’s just way to much to list in this podcast.
I thought I would take advantage, for you, of the fact that I have access to some amazing admission and financial aid staff members. They kindly have shared with me their most important things to know about the enrollment process. All guests on this episode were asked to respond to the question: what is one thing you would like parents and/or students to understand about the enrollment process? I hope you enjoy this and learn some things.
My name is Ashling Suppan, and I’m the Assistant Director of Student Financial Services. My advice to families going through the enrollment process, is that it should be a collaborative effort. Parents shouldn’t do everything for students, but they also shouldn’t throw them in the deep end without any help. Work together towards your common goal, which is the student’s future.
Hi guys, this is Doug Ulrich, one of the Assistant Directors of Admission at Ursinus College, and I think my best advice for parents, specifically first-generation students and parents, is to don’t be afraid to ask questions and educate yourself. There are a lot of resources that are out there, whether it’s through your local high school, or your community college, or just any college that you’re looking at, to go speak to somebody about financial aid or understand the FAFSA, or whatever you’re having any questions about. Don’t be afraid to reach to your Admissions Counselor. That’s what we’re there for. Email us, call us, text us if it’s allowed, but don’t be afraid to ask any questions. It’s never too early to get started within the college application process or the enrollment process and let us try to ease your mind as much as we can. That way we can make the transition from high school to college as seamless as possible.
Alyssa Worrilow, Associate Director of Admission. The one thing that I would like parents and/or students to understand about the enrollment process is if you plan ahead of time you can have a lot of fun with it and you should make it fun, because this is a really important time in your lives, and it is a fun process because you’re exploring where you’re going to be spending, hopefully, the next four years of your life. You’re going to be planning trips and doing research, and if you’re not so stressed out about it, and you plan efficiently, then it can be a lot of fun, and you can make projects together. Just have fun with it. Don’t stress out, and of course, like I said, if you do enough planning in the beginning, it will be fun.
Hi, everyone. This Shawn Kennedy, Assistant Director of Admission, here at Ursinus. When asked what is one thing that is not stressed enough is your admissions counselor really can be a great resource for you. The college, we’re already here for you. We already want to help, regardless of the institution that you end up ultimately choosing, your admission counselor really cares about you and wants you to be successful, wherever you are, wherever you’re going to reach that full potential. I definitely wish I knew that kind of going through the process as I didn’t have a lot of people to rely on. I wish I knew I could rely on the Admission staff more often throughout the entire process.
Hi, my name is Destinee Harper, and I am an Assistant Director of Admissions at Ursinus College. If there was one thing I could advise parents during the enrollment process, for their child, when they’re looking for college. I would say utilize the guidance counselor’s office or the college advising office, whatever the student has at their school. Really have the student go to those visits when the colleges come and to talk about different programs at whatever school, so they can learn more about the school. I say also, to utilize the admissions team at a college. Ask as many questions you can. Talk to Financial Aid about FAFSA, scholarship information, loans, educating parents about loans, and that understanding that it could be a necessary evil for your child to go to school, but you necessarily won’t be in debt for life. There’re other options about taking smaller loans versus a big one. Lastly, I say visit the school. Do interviews at the school. If the school has that available for them, so the student can show the admissions team, who are going to be reviewing the application how great they are, and how well rounded they are, because sometimes the application doesn’t reflect that. Also, visiting the campus so you can see people like to go there, and for their parents can be comfortable leaving their child there for four years. That’s the advice I would give.
My name is Jesse Randall, and I’m the Associate Director of Student Financial Services. One thing I wish that parents would know going into the whole admission process and the financial aid process, specifically, is that we are on the same side as you. The reason I’m in this job is because I want to be an advocate for students and despite sometimes having to deliver bad news, it’s not something that I enjoy doing. It’s typically regarding regulations that I have to deliver bad news. At the end of the day, all I’m trying to do is help the student out as best as I can.
There we have it. Aren’t they great? Should you have any specific questions that were not answered here, or mentioned, that you would like answered in an upcoming episode, please feel free to email me. I will mention the email address in just a moment. If you would like another episode like this, definitely let me know that too. I would also love to do an episode of what is one thing that parents want college admission officers to know, and I’d love to do one from the student’s point of view as well. If you would like to participate in that, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and put guest in the subject line. I would also like to take a moment to state that this episode is not sponsored by Ursinus College. Actually, I’ve made it a commitment in my first year of podcasting, and potentially for all of my years of podcasting, to not have any outside sponsors. I hope you like that, and if you do, thank The Minimalists. If you want to keep it that way, be sure to share my podcasts on social media, or with someone you think would benefit from it. You are the best. Thanks!
The questions I have for you in this episode are: 1) If you could tell your child’s college enrollment team one thing, what would you want them to know? If you answer that, and you’d like to be included on the podcast, just write podcast okay, in there.
2) What is the most important thing for you, in your child’s college search? Meaning, what’s the one thing? Is it they need to be an hour away from you or less? Or, is it cost? Or is it a major for them? I’m really curious. What’s the most important thing for you in your child’s college search. Great. I invite you to fly over to my Empty Nest Flock Community at youremptynestcoach.com/community to share your answers to this episode’s questions and a reminder to sign up for my free Thursday Thoughts email. There I will send you weekly thoughts on what is on my mind, as well as updates on my coaching programs and podcasts. As always, if you have a question you would like me to answer on my podcast, you may submit it to me in the Empty Nest Flock Community Forum or email me at podcast AT youremptynestcoach.com. Include your question and how you would like me to refer to you or, if at all. My next episode’s title is Misery Loves Company, But What Does That Get You?
It is listener feedback time. I would like to share listener feedback in my episodes going forward and I’ll start with my very first Apple podcast review. This one is titled It’s Mine, I Like It, and it says, giving my own review to see how it works. Thank for checking this out. Yes, the writer of that review is Your Empty Nest Coach, me, but I would love to read your review in the future, so don’t be shy. Thank you so much for listening, and remember, you are amazing!
Christine: You are listening to the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast with Coach Christine, episode number 9, When You Aren’t a Fan of Your Child’s College Major. … I told you last week that we were going to talk about your child’s major. I’m going to start at ice cream. Yes, ice cream.
Christine: You are listening to the Your Empty Nest Coach podcast with Coach Christine, episode number 9, When You Aren’t a Fan of Your Child’s College Major. This podcast is for you, a mother who years ago walked away from a career to raise your child. Sure, you’ve been busy with volunteering, car pools, maybe part-time work and taking care of everyone. But your main gig, that’s been your child. Now, that they are in their later years of high school, the empty nest looms ahead for you and it’s 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. Episode 9 today, and if I’ve cued this up correctly, next week has Valentine’s Day in it. Honestly, hubby and I don’t make a big deal about it. But if it is important to you, make sure you are clear with your partner on your expectations. If you want roses, and for the last 15 years you haven’t gotten roses, buy yourself some darn roses, my friend! Rather than expecting your partner to read your mind and then, be disappointed when they aren’t able to. How about you just spell it out for them, or better yet, just buy yourself the roses and then, love on your partner. That’s it. What are you making their ability to read your mind mean in your life? It seems a little silly when put that, doesn’t it? That is my Valentine’s Day public service announcement. I might need a whole episode on that topic.
I told you last week that we were going to talk about your child’s major. I’m going to start at ice cream. Yes, ice cream. When I was, I’m going to say under five years old, as far as I knew three flavors of ice cream existed in the universe, chocolate, vanilla and strawberry. Sometimes, they were all together in that Neapolitan. I remember when sometimes the pink ice cream got on it, I was not very happy. If you had asked me at that age, what my favorite flavor of ice cream was in the whole world, chocolate would have clearly been my response.
I was introduced to the ice cream truck and then, the limited variety of ice cream options at school, when I went. You know that ice cream option with the fudge in the middle and the crumbs on the outside, it’s chocolate? I have no idea what it’s called to be honest, but it was my favorite at school for sure. Mint chocolate chip ice cream, that became a favorite along the way for quite some time. Interesting flavors could be found at Dairy Queen or Friendly’s, which I believe at that time was called Friendly. Ben and Jerry’s ice cream didn’t go national until 1982, when I was 11 years old. Think about this. When I was younger it was a clear choice of chocolate. All I knew about was three flavors, and I hadn’t experienced much of the world. We’ll come back to ice cream in just a bit.
There are so many factors that play into a college major. I mean, some could be interests, earning power, potential demand for graduates, cost, workload and more. These all could be super important or not important to you at all, depending on your circumstances. What I want to challenge you today to do, is to really consider is your child’s major truly theirs? Are they exploring what they want to explore during their time in college? Be super careful that your anxiety, over their future, isn’t guiding them down a path that truly isn’t theirs to take.
Much of the point of college is to explore. To explore new interests and ideas. To expand their world. To discover the new flavors of ice cream that they didn’t even know existed when they started college. Your thoughts about your child’s major, this is really important, how do you show up with the thoughts that you have about your child’s major? I mean, your daughter could call tomorrow and tell you she wants to be a neurosurgeon. You could just as easily have these two totally different thoughts. One thought could be that is tremendous, she’s going to be a neurosurgeon. Another thought could be, oh my gosh, that is a lot of school and a lot of loans to pay for, whether it’s her or me. Right? Same circumstance, totally different thoughts. What’s interesting, is how do you show up differently with those thoughts? Here’s another example, your son could announce that they want to be a Liberal Studies major because they really have no idea what they want they want to do. Your thoughts about that could be what is Liberal Studies? I mean, what kind of job will you get with that? Another option could be, I’m so glad they aren’t rushing into a career path and are taking the time they need to explore their options.
If you’ve listened to my podcast from the beginning, you might now know that I’m going to ask you, how do you show up for your child with the thoughts that you are having about their college major? Who are you for your child with the thoughts that you are having? It’s a college major. Unless they plan to be a doctor, a lawyer, or one of the handful of particular career options that need a specific path, how much does that college major mean, in the long term of their life? If they are on one of those particular paths, make sure they want to be on that path. As for the major, I know a detective who started in finance. I know an attorney who started in elementary education. I know a liberal studies major who became a computer programmer and I know a data analyst that doesn’t have a degree at all. The next time you feel yourself with anxiety over your child’s college major, I want you to ask yourself, what do you want your child to get from you? Is it judgement? Is it anxiety? Or is it support? You can take the energy you spend on concern and worry and put it into discovery with your child.
Can I be really real for a minute with you? What do you truly want your child to have at the end of the four years? A piece of paper with specific words on it, or would you rather your child have clarity on who they are meant to be in the world? I’d take the latter option, any day, for my child. I’m guessing you would too. Really think about it. What if at the end of the four years, they knew who they were? What if they were an actual, emotional adult who knew how to figure out the next steps in life no matter what life threw at them? You know how everyone asks the question, what do you do? What if your child knew who they were so well, that they weren’t wrapped up in their career and they were confident in that? Can you imagine? Imagine that you’re not your job. Just as you aren’t your thoughts. Jobs change. You are still you. You’re still who you are without the job. If your child can discover themselves without that focused job identity, before they’re knee deep in it, what a gift that would be. Right? If your child hasn’t already taken the MBTI, Strong Inventory, or something like it, I’d suggest doing that. There’s a free resource online that is fairly accurate, and I will include a link in my show notes. Take a look at that. Do it with your child. Talk about the results and how it fits in your life for yourself. Have everyone in the family do it. Discuss it. Compare notes. Have fun with it.
Now, back to ice cream. In my life, we were back with the mint chocolate chip ice cream being my favorite. Life happens, and it wasn’t until my 20’s that I actually began to actually enjoy the beverage coffee. Many years go by, I have the option to try Friendly’s Vienna Mocha Chunk ice cream, and with my now expanded worldview and my new taste preferences, this was without a doubt my favorite, and still is. Imagine if someone said to me at age five, Christine, pick your favorite ice cream flavor and you will have it for the rest of your life. I might have been thrilled at that moment, but I want you to choose something now that will impact you for the rest of your life, and here’s what we end up doing to our children, and to other people in the world, and I never want you to change it. Can you imagine if when I discovered mint chocolate chip, or Vienna Mocha Chunk ice cream, that everyone around me said, oh, no, you chose chocolate. That’s all you can have. I know with ice cream it seems silly, but we do this to our kids with their college major and it starts even earlier, because we ask them to choose what path to take, Science or Humanities, in ninth grade and sometimes earlier? The things we make this mean. You make this episode mean whatever you want. It’s not solutions. It’s just stuff to think about. I hope it does that for you. As a side note, I apologize if you are lactose intolerant, for all those ice cream references.
My next episode’s topic will be filled with advice from college admission counselors, answering the question: what is one thing you wish parents or students understood about the admission process? I’m really excited about this. This will be my first one with guests.
The questions I have for you in this episode are:
1) How excited are you for your child’s major choice?
2) If you attended college, what was your major, and did it set the course for your life?
I invite you to fly over to my Empty Nest Flock Community at youremptynestcoach.com/community to share your answers to this episode’s questions. If you come over to our community, know that it is brand spanking new, so there isn’t a lot going on at the moment, but be one of the first to join in. I can’t wait to have this flock form a great formation and just fly to great things. Be one of the first.
I realize I have forgotten to mention lately that this podcast is sponsored by my free seven-day class, The Empty Nest Guide to Uncovering My Future. If you have a question you would like me to answer on the podcast, you may submit it to me in my Empty Nest Flock Community Forum, that is public, or email me at podcast AT youremptynestcoach.com. Include your question and how you would like me to refer to you or, if at all. I look forward to seeing there, my empty nest friend. Remember, you are amazing!
I originally posted this on a blog I had started a few years ago. I thought I would share a few posts from there, to get things going on this site.
Thoughts running around my head after a couple of days in my daughter’s soon-to-be college home.
Moments to Treasure
Independence in Your Teenager. As frustrating as it can be when you are within the same walls, it is this same independence that will provide you comfort that they will be able to handle themselves when you are not around.
Future Activities. You discover an Escape Room. Your teen immediately begins to formulate a trip there with her future dorm friends. By the time you leave town, three new friends have said, “I’m in.”
When your child says, “Yay, a fair trade shop.“
Enjoying the trip home with your teenager who will be staying behind next time you make this trip.
The Time between now and move-in day: a turtle’s pace for your teenager and at the speed of light for you.