Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton
You may remember me from our Jimmy Jam days. I covered the Sebest beat on Caringbridge, Facebook and jimmyjam for years after Jim’s accident. And if you attended a Jimmy Jam (thank you), I probably tried to sell you a raffle ticket and/or an auction item (sorry). We slowed those posts in an attempt to give our friends the privacy needed to settle into their new normal. Jim and Andi’s son Addison was just 13; their daughter Olivia and my daughter 9 back then. Addison is now a high school graduate (whoop whoop!), and the girls are high school seniors (gulp) on the journey toward college.
Holy. Time. Warp.
We’re in the midst of all senior year throws at our kids (and us)…and we’re feeling oh-so-overwhelmed. Anyone else in that boat? I don’t remember it being this stressful when I was looking at colleges. And there was very little “looking” back in my day. My parents had three kids to educate and in-state residency in DE (though we went to high school in PA). Their input was “we’ll pay for any in state school.”
DE is a small state.
So all three of us attended The University of Delaware. Which I loved. I met some of my favorite souls at that school, and joined a sorority of girls who are still part of my tribe. But it was a series of accidents, and my family was woefully underprepared for college planning (more on that later). Now I’d like to make sure no one else is.
As I’m trying to navigate my daughter safely, sanely, through the maze of college prep, I’ve been reading and connecting with people who dedicate their lives to helping. Paths crossed, interests aligned and here I am, back in the blog game.
For a new reason this time, connecting those of us trying to provide the best support, the best advice, the best prep we can possibly give our kids before they head out with a trailer full of gear from Bed Bath and Beyond (you have started collecting those 20% off coupons, right??). There’s a lot to cover. Anyone else’s head spinning from all the acronyms: SAT, ACT, FAFSA, AACU, AI, COA, NEA, EFC, flying around like gnats? If so, let’s talk.
And by talk, I mean vent.
For those of you who don’t know me, here’s a little background: I’m the mother of a 22-year-old college student son, an 18-year-old high school senior daughter and a 14 1/4 year old yellow lab (the lab is the easiest – and he really wanted to be in that picture). I’m also the middle sister to two brothers, have both of my octogenarian parents and am navigating through redefining our family after “consciously uncoupling” (thanks Gwyneth) from my former spouse. All of that is a lot to handle, so having an outlet like this blog and my gaggle of friends helps.
My other day job is with a financial company whose motto is Plan, Invest, Protect.
Don’t worry, I am NOT going to try to sell you an annuity*, but that motto works really well for the college path too. You definitely need to plan. Someone (hello mom, dad) is going to invest (a lot), and we want to protect everything your child (and hello again mom/dad) has worked so hard to achieve.
So plan. Wherever they are in school…elementary, middle, high, it’s NEVER too early to start (and college visits are fun).
You know what most people, especially high schoolers, do not think is fun? Test taking. I know at least two of those acronyms strike severe terror into the heart of my child.
You know what helped her?
Practice (as in a test prep course, cough, cough). Patience (I promise it will develop). Confidence (the first two will go a long way in landing your child here). Being prepared is vital, and inherent in the name “Acumen Test Prep.”
You know what helped me? Talking to other parents on the struggle bus. So that’s why I’m here, to share all the ups and downs of parenting one almost (but not as close as I’d like him to be) out of college, and one almost (but closer than I’d like her to be) out of high school. I hope you’ll join me.
And I hope you survived that first round of “early admission” deadlines Nov. 1st. Did that ruin anyone else’s Halloween?
I’m still stress eating mini Twix bars. And that’s just me, I know my girl is feeling all sorts of new fears and emotions and in about 9 months she’ll start a whole new life. On her own(ish). Dammit.
I’m not ready. (Where are those Twix bars?)
In all the helicoptering that may or may not be be going on at your house during this college prep phase, I hope the importance of self care stands out. Whether it’s the first or the last one leaving the nest, it’s a huge adjustment for everyone, so be gentle with yourself and each other. Keep talking to your friends, your spouse, your college bound one(s), your therapist and anyone else in your circle who can help you calmly walk, and more importantly laugh, through this phase. I’d love to be part of that circle.
*And if you’re over 50, it seriously wouldn’t hurt to take a look at an annuity.