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Home Blog College Counseling - Everybody Isn't Doing It

College Counseling - Everybody Isn't Doing It

By Betsy Bingham-Johns 12/08/2016

Parents know (and remember!) what peer pressure looks like for kids. They want to fit in. They want to be accepted. They don't want to be singled out. "Everybody's doing it" can be a persuasive teen argument even when it's not true.

Peer pressure also exists for parents, especially around college admissions. And if you're the parent of a high school student, you've likely seen, heard, or experienced it. But just in case, here are a few examples:

• You've got to start test prep early these days.
• Northwestern really likes leadership, so we're lining up some positions for our son.
• It's just so competitive these days. Kids need to stand out to get into a decent college.
• We have friends on the board who've promised to tag her application.
• The summer leagues are the best place for coaches to see these kids.
• He'll have over 100 hours of community service, so we'll have him write his essay about that.
• Get her out of that class if you can. That teacher is terrible. Our son got a "C" because she didn't like him.
• You've got to have a private counselor. The counselors at school don't know anything.

Yes, this might sound like run-of-the-mill college talk for engaged parents, but it's not. It's parental peer pressure. Those words are telling you:

• We're doing something for our student that you aren't doing for yours.
• Our student has an advantage that your student doesn't.
• We have insight that you don't have.
• We're taking this more seriously than you are.
• We're doing it right-you're doing it wrong.

 Like teen peer pressure, parental peer pressure capitalizes on the fear of not fitting in. Do you want to be the one parent who didn't listen? The one parent who watched your student fail? The one parent who could have and should have done more, but didn't?

There's a difference between a trusted friend, one with a sincere interest in your student, offering perspective, advice, or encouragement and that parent who makes you feel bad about your family's approach to the college admissions process.

Peer pressure makes teens do things they otherwise don't want to do. Don't let parental peer pressure do the same to you. Instead of caving in, do what you'd tell your kids to do. Don't listen. Don't engage. Don't let them make you feel bad. Do what feels right for you (and your student), not what someone else tells you is best.
And if the pressure is unrelenting, it's possible you'll need to find new friends (or minimize your interactions together until after the admissions process is over).

I've watched hundreds of families go through the college admissions process. And I have never once heard any of them say at the conclusion, "What helped most was all the unsolicited information and advice we got from our friends."

You know your student better than your friends do. And the reality of whatever you're being pressured to do is that everybody isn't doing it.

Topics: college, parents

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Home Blog College Counseling - Everybody Isn't Doing It

College Counseling - Everybody Isn't Doing It

By Betsy Bingham-Johns 12/08/2016

Parents know (and remember!) what peer pressure looks like for kids. They want to fit in. They want to be accepted. They don't want to be singled out. "Everybody's doing it" can be a persuasive teen argument even when it's not true.

Peer pressure also exists for parents, especially around college admissions. And if you're the parent of a high school student, you've likely seen, heard, or experienced it. But just in case, here are a few examples:

• You've got to start test prep early these days.
• Northwestern really likes leadership, so we're lining up some positions for our son.
• It's just so competitive these days. Kids need to stand out to get into a decent college.
• We have friends on the board who've promised to tag her application.
• The summer leagues are the best place for coaches to see these kids.
• He'll have over 100 hours of community service, so we'll have him write his essay about that.
• Get her out of that class if you can. That teacher is terrible. Our son got a "C" because she didn't like him.
• You've got to have a private counselor. The counselors at school don't know anything.

Yes, this might sound like run-of-the-mill college talk for engaged parents, but it's not. It's parental peer pressure. Those words are telling you:

• We're doing something for our student that you aren't doing for yours.
• Our student has an advantage that your student doesn't.
• We have insight that you don't have.
• We're taking this more seriously than you are.
• We're doing it right-you're doing it wrong.

 Like teen peer pressure, parental peer pressure capitalizes on the fear of not fitting in. Do you want to be the one parent who didn't listen? The one parent who watched your student fail? The one parent who could have and should have done more, but didn't?

There's a difference between a trusted friend, one with a sincere interest in your student, offering perspective, advice, or encouragement and that parent who makes you feel bad about your family's approach to the college admissions process.

Peer pressure makes teens do things they otherwise don't want to do. Don't let parental peer pressure do the same to you. Instead of caving in, do what you'd tell your kids to do. Don't listen. Don't engage. Don't let them make you feel bad. Do what feels right for you (and your student), not what someone else tells you is best.
And if the pressure is unrelenting, it's possible you'll need to find new friends (or minimize your interactions together until after the admissions process is over).

I've watched hundreds of families go through the college admissions process. And I have never once heard any of them say at the conclusion, "What helped most was all the unsolicited information and advice we got from our friends."

You know your student better than your friends do. And the reality of whatever you're being pressured to do is that everybody isn't doing it.

Topics: college, parents
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