The Joy and Angst of Decision Day

decision day

May Decision Day has come and gone. Students have made those final decisions and committed to college in the fall. After all the stress of senior year and some of the conflict that arose within families, you can rest easy the hard work is done and it’s smooth sailing ahead.

But is it? Your student and you have worked hard for this day and you should certainly enjoy the accomplishment. Your student did the work and was accepted to college. You did the work and prepared your student for that next phase in their life: adulthood. You have been planning for this day ever since they entered high school. You looked forward to the day when they would finally leave your nest and go out on their own. But you probably weren’t expecting so many mixed feelings.

If you’re like me, you wonder if your child is ready to face life on their own. Will they make the right choices? Will they make wrong choices that compromise their future? Will they adjust to college life and the pressure that will come with academics, finding friends, and overcoming the temptation to induldge in risky behavior? All these feelings can turn your joy into angst. And you are probably not alone.

Your teenager is probably feeling the same. Are they happy with their college choice? Did they make the right decision? Are they ready to move away from home to a new place and meet new friends? How will they survive without your help and guidance? Will they be able to handle the rigorous academics of college?

As graduation approaches, and summer rolls around, expect to experience a wide range of emotions from joy to anxiety, to excitement and finally acceptance. Your student will most likely feel fear and anxiety as move in day approaches. You will want to hold tight to every moment and make some memories to carry you through those first few weeks of loneliness and loss. If it means you will have an empty nest, the grieving process will begin as move-in day approaches.

My advice? Allow yourself to have all the feelings and encourage your soon-to-be college student to talk and express those feelings as well. It’s natural for your student to feel anxiety and fear of the unknown. It’s natural to want to hold on longer and wish they were still toddlers who needed you all the time.

Avoid giving in to negative feelings and embrace the excitement of change and new beginnings. As your student transitions into adulthood your relationship will change and grow, and you will begin to enjoy this next phase in both of your lives.

Smooth sailing after Decision Day? Maybe not. Sailing with gentle breezes of change with a few mild storms along the way? Absolutely!

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