With thousands of quality colleges spread throughout the US, parents shouldn’t stress over getting their child into the “right school,” according to #NACACreads author Julie Lythcott-Haims.
Their challenge instead? Helping their child develop habits early on that will allow them to thrive wherever they go.
Lythcott-Haims made those comments during a Tuesday night #NACACreads discussion focused on her bestselling book, How to Raise an Adult. Counselors and admission professionals from across the country participated in the hour-long Twitter chat and shared tips to help students build the skills and experiences they need to succeed in college and beyond.
For a large segment of middle- and upper-class students, the college-going process has become more complex in recent years. Although academically prepared, a tendency toward overparenting has made many millennials and their Generation Z counterparts overly dependent on mom and dad.
Chat participants discussed how college counselors and admission officers can work with families to help students build life skills and gain independence. Simple things, like requiring students to call colleges with questions (rather than have a parent phone on their behalf) can go a long way, said Bob Bardwell, director of school counseling at Monson High School (MA).
“I tell all my students to not let their parents call,” he tweeted. “…Practice being a grown-up.”
Lythcott-Haims, who served as a dean of freshmen at Stanford University (CA) for a decade, said those early nudges are important. Kids who don’t learn coping skills early on aren’t prepared to make the most of their college experience.
She also called on colleges to ratchet down the “admission arms race,” noting that overparenting in the US is tied to the idea that students must compile a near-perfect resume and transcript to get into the college of their choice.
With the stakes so high, parents feel they must intervene to make sure their child stays on track. And kids don’t feel they can make mistakes — even though failure is a crucial part of learning, Lythcott-Haims said.
“Kids need to be able to fail, fall, flail, flounder, fumble — what I call five beautiful F words,” Lythcott-Haims tweeted.
Admitted writer/editor Mary Stegmeir welcomes additional comments and story ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.