Helping Your Teen Find the Right College Fit

| March 29, 2012 | 25 Comments

It’s almost April!  

Where is your teen on the path to finding the colleges that are the right fit?

If your teen is just stepping into the search for the colleges, it’s time to actively, yet gently, provide support with this process.

  •      What’s your teen thinking about life after high school?
  •      How is she feeling?
  •      What is he talking about with you?
  •      What is getting done in the lengthy and challenging search process for the colleges that are the best matches ?

Now is the time to have (or continue) the foundational conversations about the future.  Here’s a way into the process of supporting your teen in discovering which option-two or four year college, technical school, or even gap year then college-will be the right fit.

We need to talk with our teens about:

  • who they are now (their strengths, values, learning and social needs, wants and challenges)
  • who they want to become (a professional in a particular field, a global citizen, a young adult – ready to be responsible for all aspects of life)
  • how they see themselves bridging the gap between where they are now and where they want to be in the future (getting clear on who they are, what they need and want in a college environment, and possibilities for their future work)
  •  what kinds of encouragement and support they need (help in learning the path, creating a timeline, constructing a chart/spreadsheet to contain all the critical information about colleges, planning to visits campuses, etc.)

These are not idle questions nor are they philosophical conversations.  I urge you to ask those questions of your teen, to begin an ongoing dialogue.  Perhaps the exact words (above) aren’t yours, but what are your words?  And:

  • When will you begin what will become an ongoing dialogue?  Today, tomorrow, over the weekend?
  • How will you have that conversations?  Where will it take place?  In the car on a long drive, after school one day, at the dinner table? What’s comfortable for you and your teen?
  • Who will be there?  Is it just you and your teen, or will it include others-and what effect will that have?

I know, it sounds like we’re playing Clue-it’s Colonel Mustard in the library with a wrench-though really, if you don’t set a date, time and place, are you sure you will make it happen?  

While the results may be immediately awesome-strengthening your relationship with your teen-it may also be awkward or difficult, for your teen, you, or both of you.  So much depends on so many factors:

  • What kind of relationship do you have?
  • How often do you have these kinds of deep, meaningful, personal conversations?

If you’re not sure how to begin this dialogue-because it will be many conversations over the course of the college search-how will you gain confidence and skills so you can support your teen?  Can you talk to your spouse, partner, a family member, friend or a coach?  This is a new adventure for you too, be sure to reach out to your network for support during this time of growth and change-for our teens and for you

For a more complete picture of the path to college, here is a mindmap: A year in the life of a high school junior-senior.

Dr. Jill Greenbaum is an innovator in coaching teens and parents during the college search, using a strengths-based approach with teens to help them understand themselves, meet challenges, and learn to manage-and even enjoy-parts of this process.

Like this blog post? Sign up for the TeenLife Newsletter!

About the Author ()

Dr. Jill Greenbaum is an innovator in coaching teens and parents during the college search, using a strengths-based approach with teens to help them understand themselves, meet challenges, and learn to manage-and even enjoy-parts of this process. Her visual coaching style encourages self awareness, enhances self esteem, reduces distress, facilitates growth and goal achievement, and it sets Jill apart from her colleagues. Her clients say she is keenly tuned into their needs as teens in the midst of the confusing, anxiety-provoking, and often overwhelming college search process.

Sorry. This form is no longer accepting new submissions.