In my work with families, I have found that there are two periods when the stress of senior year in high school peaks. The first occurs between November 1 and February 1, which coincides with the college application deadline process. This is when early admission, early action and regular admission applications are due — along with all the essays, transcripts, recommendations, portfolios and application fees.
This first peak period of duress also occurs over the holiday season, which itself can generate its own tension and anxieties. And, it may also coincide with a time when your child's coursework, extracurricular and social activities are reaching a crescendo — all able to overwhelm an already-exhausted senior. To help, be sure to give your child plenty of opportunity to express his frustrations around this, as well as acknowledge and celebrate when the applications are finally done and submitted.
The second most stressful period in the application process is between February and April when seniors are waiting for admission decisions. The good news is that 78 percent of students are accepted at their top choice school, but the bad news is 22 percent are not. So parents can best help their child by preparing them for both outcomes. An acceptance is great, but a rejection is only a bump in the road that will eventually lead to college.
And also, keep in mind that even if your child is accepted to every one of the schools he applied to, there is still the stress of deciding which one to choose. Parents also may feel pressure at this time, since the decision could be based on both the school itself and the financial aid package it is offering.
So get Zen and keep breathing through the deadlines and at some point you'll be on the other side of this decision.