10 Nov

The Right College Means Happier Students–and Parents

I took a hiatus from posting to my blog due to the fact that our staff member who formats and uploads the blog entries was on maternity leave.  But she’s back now so I will again be making regular posts.

I want to update you on our own family’s college planning progress.  You may recall that my son chose to attend Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.  I dropped him off in August for Orientation Week.  Every mother visualizes months in advance that dreaded moment of having to say that final good-bye to their child.  It is a right of passage that is usually harder for the parent than the child.  I was no exception.  I found myself getting teary-eyed often when trying to imagine what that moment would be like.  My mind’s video was playing out with heightened sadness when I thought of leaving him on the other side of the country.

I am sharing this story with you because I not only survived this event (like tens of thousands of other parents before me), but I can tell you the build up to it in my mind’s eye was much worse than the actual “big good-bye.”  I want to give two reasons that I left Pittsburgh with a smile on my face instead of with swollen eyes with an endless stream of tears (the latter, of course, is what I had been seeing in my dramatic video.)

The two reasons I was not a blubbering parent when I said good-bye:

  1. My son has worked hard to get to where he’s at.  He made a very mature choice to move all the way across the country to attend college – embracing a whole new way of life he has never experienced before.  To this day I vividly remember when I said good-bye to my mother and drove off to college. I didn’t want my son to always be left with the memory of me totally “losing it.” I knew that if I cried uncontrollably it would make that once-in-a-lifetime moment harder on him.  I wanted him to not only feel my love and support, but also that I was totally comfortable and ready for him to embark upon his new life.  To sum up, because I focused on putting my son’s feelings in front of my own, I was able to keep myself together.  Maybe some of you will be able to do the same when your time comes.
  2. My son found a dream school for himself which has enabled him to make a seamless transition from high school to college. I have written in other posts how important a “college match” can be in reducing your college expenses.  (A college match is where you match your student’s profile with the freshman profile of a college.  You begin with academics and then add talents and extracurricular activities.  A college match can not only significantly improve your child’s chances of being admitted, but also improve financial aid awards.)
    A college match can also ensure that your child will be immersed in an environment that will feel like the right fit and make him or her feel comfortable almost immediately.

This is exactly what has occurred for my son.  CMU is a dream college for my son because it is a perfect fit for him academically, socially, and culturally.  He felt right at home within his first couple of days of moving into his dorm room.  When I helped him move in and met some of the other students in his dorm and saw all the activities they would be doing during Orientation Week, I couldn’t have been happier.  I knew my son had made the right choice.  It was extremely comforting for me to see how excited he was and how he immediately began immersing himself into his new life.  How could I allow myself to get caught up in feelings about how much I would miss him when I was witnessing my son’s happiness as he continues his transformation from adolescent to young adult?

Every child can find a dream college for him or herself.  A college match by an experienced professional can be a powerful tool in identifying the possibilities. (I had one of our company’s own professional counselors do a college match for my son and she’s the one who identified Carnegie Mellon as a great school for him.  We would have never thought about looking at a school in Pittsburgh without her input!)

What’s interesting is that a dream college doesn’t have to be a big name school or an expensive school.  A dream college is a perfect fit for a student because it matches a student’s unique characteristics, values, and desires.  A dream college provides an environment where your child can thrive in every way. I am so thankful that my son found his dream college.  I hope this post will assist you in experiencing something similar with your child and will make that big good-bye a little easier to handle.

All the best,
Deborah Fox

photo: two_beautiful_female_friends by bigevil600

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