Now more than ever, high school students face a lot of stress when it comes to applying for and deciding on a college. Over the years, the college application process has started earlier and earlier, meaning students have to start thinking about college and making decisions much earlier in their senior year than before. Waiting to hear from the schools they applied to can be a major source of anxiety, but it’s not the only reason your student might be stressed out. Based on a College Parent Central article, here are six things many high school seniors worry about during college application season, and how you can help reassure them.
1. Fear of rejection
Applying to that #1 dream school can be nerve-wracking — what if they don’t get in? What if they don’t get into any schools at all? A lot of pressure is put on college admittance, and a denial can feel like a personal failure. If your student is worried about rejection, it’s important to remind them that there are many reasons why schools accept or don’t accept students, and it’s not a reflection of your student’s worth or skills. If your student doesn’t get into the schools they want, they can always consider taking a gap year and applying again during the next application cycle.
2. Fear of the decision
Deciding what to do after high school graduation is a major life choice. It might be the first major life choice your student has had to make. If they are admitted to multiple colleges, they may feel overwhelmed with the decision. They want the best college experience possible, and they might be worried about making the “wrong” choice. You can help by going over the pros and cons of each school with them, and reminding them that college is what you make it — no matter where they attend, they can find resources and opportunities to make it a great experience.
3. Fear of leaving home
If your student is leaving home for college, it can be both exciting and intimidating. They’ve likely never lived away from home for this long before. This newfound independence may be exciting, but there’s often also worry about adjusting to being apart from their family every day and not having that support system. The good news is your student will still have a support system in college. Classmates, advisors, professors and staff are all there to help your student adjust to the next stage of their life and cope with being homesick. And remind them that you’ll still be there for them no matter how far they go — just a phone call or text away.
4. Fear of finances
It’s no secret that college can be expensive. From student loans to daily expenses while living away from home, your student might be worried about their budget and money in general. Now’s the time to have a conversation about it. Check out our blog posts about paying for college and budgeting if you need ideas for how to start the conversation. Your student can also contact their college’s financial aid office for advice on financial aid and loan repayment. College expenses can seem much less intimidating after going over all of the resources available to minimize costs.
5. Fear of abilities
High school students hear this all the time: college is going to be much harder than high school. This can be intimidating, and your student might be worried that they’re not capable of success in a more challenging environment. While there definitely is an adjustment period, the good news is that your student will have access to plenty of resources to help them adapt and thrive in their new environment. Remind your student that they can take advantage of tutoring services and academic advising if they’re ever struggling with academics.
6. Fear of the unknown
Finally, the truth is that college can seem like one big mystery. Your student probably doesn’t have a lot of life experience yet, so facing unknown life challenges can feel extra scary. And the college experience is more different than ever with COVID-19. It’s normal to be nervous about the unpredictability of the future, but your student won’t go through it alone. Most, if not all, incoming college students are feeling the same way, and will be there to form a community of support as they all adapt to this new adventure.