College Apps: Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Almost every day a junior or senior in high school is asked where they wish to attend college, how far they are on apps, what they want to major in… But what if we have no clue? What if we haven’t thought about it or visited colleges, or what if we aren’t going to college? Parents, students, and strangers alike seem to have no regard for our feelings when it comes to college. They assume it is a completely respectable thing to ask about, when often (but not always) the questions are accompanied by panic, shame, and insecurities, answering with the same rehearsed lies.

Parents seem to be a huge cause of stress in this area. Parents are constantly on their children’s backs (even sometimes their friends) about grades, sports, social life, and most anything else in their lives. Around junior year they start pressuring you to research colleges, and many even send you to a college counselor adding more things on your already long list of what you need to do. By the time senior year rolls around they expect their children to know where they want to apply and to get those applications done quickly. However, they don’t realize how strenuous the application process can be, let alone selecting the colleges you apply to. You have to think, do you really want to live here for the next four or so years? And the essays are often personal and difficult to write since there is a chance it will decide your entire future. No pressure right?

So when they ask: “Where are you going to college?” you just want to scream into a pillow and say “that is actually MY business… not yours.” Of course that isn’t very polite, but parents need to be aware that it’s not just an innocent question.

Fellow classmates also apply an immense amount of pressure on their peers. When friends or other students ask you about how far you are on applications of where you are applying, those questions can be accompanied by flat out fear. You exchange college lists and you feel bad about yourself – you aren’t as smart or as rich or some foolish assumption such as that. Then when you find out your friend has essentially finished the application process and you have only just begun, or haven’t yet started, you feel like you must go hide in a cave and get that done right that very moment.

Be respectful of your peers: Do Not Boast About Your Colleges and Applications. It is solely your business. The same goes for GPA, SAT, and ACT scores – there is no need to share them with your peers. You don’t know their comfort level, and if you do wish to discuss those sort of stressful topics it is important to be aware of their feelings and be sensitive to the idea that they might not desire to talk about that.