The End of College Search #2 – Lessons Learned

Published by Wendy Nelson on

Grad CapAs I prepare for my middle daughter’s high school graduation party today, I am thinking about how time flies.  It’s hard to believe we are already at the end of college search #2.  Only one time left to go through this process with my own kids!

It’s a good time to reflect on and share the lessons I have learned after having a second child go through the college search process.

Lessons Learned After College Search #2

  1. Every kid is different – Of course this goes without saying, but the main point I want to make here is that no two kids are the same when it comes to the college search process.  Each one brings his or her own unique spin to the process.  My middle daughter was much more engaged in the search process and had more definite opinions of what she wanted – big campus, in the city, leaning more towards public than private.
  2. You are more prepared the second time around – This is especially true with the financial aspect.  With the first child, there is that shock when you realize how much you are actually expected to pay for college.  The second, and subsequent, time around, you have accepted that as reality and are more able to focus on ways to minimize your out-of-pocket cost. Plus you know what’s coming – campus visits, proofreading essays, constant reminders to get applications completed, waiting for acceptances and financial aid packages, etc.
  3. College choice is not as critical as you initially thought – I remember stressing out about my oldest daughter’s final college choice.  What if she made the wrong decision?  What if there was a better school for her?  As time has gone on, I have learned to worry less about that.  College will be what your child makes of it more so than where he or she goes.  And if it turns out not to be the right choice, you help them change course and move on.  Ultimately things will turn out fine in the end.  Some kids just need to take a more winding path to get to the future that’s right for them.

If you have already been through the college search process more than once, I’m sure you have other lessons learned.  Please feel free to share those in the comments.

My best advice is to take time to enjoy each step in the college search process.  Each step gives you a chance to see your son or daughter in a new and different light and to appreciate their journey to adulthood.  It’s not always easy.  There are going to be stressful moments along the way with each kid, but it’s all a journey to get them where they need to be.  And we are all fortunate to be able to help them, guide them and share in this journey.

1 Comment

Anne Vaccaro Brady · June 1, 2016 at 9:42 am

All good points, Wendy. The second time around definitely felt more manageable, though it still involved some stress. We found planning college tours and visiting campuses easier because we knew which schools we needed to visit in advance and what to look for as we made our way around. The fun part became listening for the buzz words and catch phrases shared by college tour guides that we turned into a game of “when will they say it?” Definitely kept my second kid more engaged.

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