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What is the ‘college experience’ anyway?

Letting go of your expectations for your child's college experience amidst Covid-19 uncertainties.

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This year has been crazy!  If you have a recently graduated high school senior and are now preparing to see them off to college, there is still so much uncertainty. I have a daughter who is going into her junior year at college, and what that looked like last year has changed completely too.

Like so many others, she lost the opportunity of a fantastic internship experience this summer that she spent many hours pursuing at the start of her sophomore year.  She had to let it go, and also process the feelings of disappointment and resentment there may have been.  But she pivoted quickly and thinking what’s next; just making some money doing Door Dash over the summer. 

I have been blown away with watching how our young adults have adapted, it’s very often us as adults, wanting the best for our kids, who can’t let go of the disappointment.

Perhaps your chosen school has decided how they are going to navigate the Covid-19 challenges and still provide an education, or maybe you are still waiting to hear.  So hard dealing with the unknown, of sitting with things that are out of our control.

Perhaps though you are worried about your child missing out on the college experience?

I’ve always thought that when people say ‘make the most of the college experience,’ it puts a lot of pressure on kids.  What does that mean anyway?  Is it a replay of your own experience, perhaps you had the time of your life, partying, making friends for life?

Perhaps you felt you missed out on the ideal college experience, not having a great one or college not being an option for you at all and naturally wanting your kids to have it better than you.

But ultimately, the college experience is the experience that your child naturally has. 

The introvert not feeling comfortable at large noisy parties and owning that, opting for hanging out with small groups of friends and being happy not overwhelmed.

The extrovert living it up juggling partying and studying.  The serious book worm, happy in the library hanging out with their equally committed friends.  If they are happy, then that is enough, no pressure to do more, to be any different.

We want everything to be perfect for our kids, but life isn’t perfect, and we know that when one door closes, another opens.  Life is different now, but who’s to say it’s going to be less than another experience they might have had?

Yes, they will have to find new ways of making friends, another opportunity to help them grow in different ways that they wouldn’t have experienced.

So what about you?  Left at home worrying that they are ok.  Worrying is not going to make a bit of difference.  Consciously you know that.  All it does for you is keep you stuck in a place of not being in the moment, of not being able to move forward yourself.  Trust that whatever their experience is, it’s giving them the skills they need to learn right now.

Whatever life throws at your kids, each experience helps them grow and mature and build resilience. To become a well-rounded adult who can deal with whatever life’s curveballs they have to catch.

Take a deep breath and let them fly; it’s their journey now; you can let go and bring your focus back on yourself.

What’s next for you?

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