Spring is an exciting time for high school seniors. They are rushing to the mailbox on a daily basis to see if the letter has arrived. Or in my case, my young adult is texting from school asking “Do I have mail?” which means “Did I get a letter or a packet?” One Saturday afternoon, my youngest daughter came running in from the mailbox with the almighty “packet” knowing her sister was upstairs and she was going to be the deliverer of the good news. Fanfare ensued and a milestone was checked off. Admitted!
Fast forward a few weeks and I receive an email from a parent of a young adult I worked with saying the same thing. Student has dream college. Student gets accepted. Student gets scholarship. All is right with the world! Admitted!
However, something happens after the acceptance letter is received that few people talk about. What many young people experience, after the confetti has been swept up, is the “Oh GOD! Did I make the right decision?” I call this “buyer’s remorse.” The good news is…it’s completely normal. This emotion is no different than working hard to get the job of your dreams and then wondering, “Did I make the right choice? Am I going to be happy? Is this the best fit for me?” However, for parents, it can catch you off guard.
Talking Young People Off the Ledge
1. Good Stress” is still STRESS
Yes, no matter what happens in life, good or bad, stress comes in many different forms. If it’s good news, you may ask yourself, why am I crying? Why am I not jumping up and down? For our young adults, the process to acceptance begins in middle school! Think about it. People have been asking young adults what they wanted to do their entire lives. It’s been a part of the conversation nonstop and now the decision is made. I tell the young people around me, it’s okay to doubt your decisions. It’s okay to be happy AND sad, all at the same time. It’s okay to worry that the reward may not measure up to all the hype you’ve been sharing with people about having your life all planned out. Take a moment to experience all of the emotions that go along with “change.” It’s actually very healthy.
2. Remember…you toured 100 campuses and you found your FIT!
Okay, maybe not 100…but to the parents, it may have felt that way. In today’s world of college selection, not only has a young person done their homework, they’ve written a dissertation on their ideal pick. They’ve looked at websites, reviews, virtual campus tours, and in person tours (maybe more than one). They’ve talked to admissions people, whom by now are personal friends, and maybe even faculty members. YOU HAVE DONE YOUR RESEARCH so remember why you made your decision. It felt “right”. Trust your decision-making skills as this will not be the last time you go through this process in life. In fact, it will occur in exactly 4-5 years when you begin your job search.
3. If it doesn’t work out, you can change universities!
This may make young adults stress more, but you can change your university! People change universities all the time. However, I feel it’s absolutely critical you give it a year. As a former military spouse who frequently moved, there is something magical about the one-year mark. Until that point, you are still adjusting, finding your stride, giving up what you knew as familiar and beginning a new “norm.” You must give it a full year. After that, if it’s not a good fit, DO NOT STRESS making the move! It’s much more important to find a place that matches who you are than to experience a horrible college experience. These should be some of the best years of your life, so make sure you love your university experience.
4. Lastly, take a breath!
Whether others tell you or not, your friends are experiencing the exact same thing. I promise you! There is no bigger change in your adult life than college. Celebrate your accomplishments, cherish the relationships you have with your friends, spend a little more quality time with your family, but most of all; believe in yourself and your decisions. And like I tell ALL of my clients and families, “It’s going to be okay…I promise!”
Now go throw some more confetti!