Advice for Parents

If You Can Survive Disney World, You Can Survive the College Admissions Process

My kids are still young: ages 7 and 9. It’s the peak of the glory days and I’m well aware of it. They can feed themselves, brush their own teeth and tie their shoes. But, they still seem to like me and (mostly) let me hug them in public. I was talking to some Campus Bound counselors about my family’s recent trip to Disney World. For the past ten years or so, “doing Disney” means tons of research, lists upon lists of eating spots, can’t miss rides, and a strategy for obtaining Fast Passes. Sure, you can go to Disney without preparation and take your chances, but odds are good you could miss out on your favorite rides, characters, etc.

And that’s when it hit me… parenting is just a series of obstacles. We wing some of it, and do a tremendous amount of research for some of it. And the college admissions process is no different; it’s just the current obstacle. I know it feels like a precursor for the rest of their lives. Admittedly, it’s much more important than a trip to Disney World, but if you can think of it as just the next hurdle for your family, you might be better off.

There is a lot of information out there about the college process, and it takes time and patience to research. Like preparing for a trip to the Magic Kingdom, there are books, websites, blogs, etc aiming to help you make sense of it all. Then, you have to take all that information and determine what is relevant to you and your child.

There is also a lot of “winging it” and trusting that all will be okay. Maybe you planned out the rides but forgot about bathroom breaks or the time needed for lunch. It’s stressful, but it all works out okay in the end. The college process is the same. It’s definitely not the end of the world. It WILL work out okay.

My family’s recent trip to Disney was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for my own mom. She wanted to treat her adult children and grandchildren to the best experience possible. And, given that we were going over the holidays, the parks were extremely crowded and lines for rides were averaging three hours each. So, my mom hired a private guide for the day. The guide knew which rides to take us on and the quickest way to navigate the park. She took us to the front of the lines and made the day a million times easier. Rather than doing three rides that day, we did twenty!

That’s similar to hiring a private college counselor. We do the research for you. We have experience. We know the process in and out and have helped many families work through it. It was a tremendous luxury to have the private guide at Disney. A college counselor is helpful to families in a similar vein. But there is no price tag for the stress-relief and joy that comes with having someone who knows the process in and out guiding you along.

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