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5 College Application Struggles We Know Too Well

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Hear that? It's the sound of millions of high school seniors and their parents banging their heads against the wall as they try to get through the college application process. What should be the beginning of an exciting journey often ends up as a tearful, frustrating process as families try and navigate their way through online applications, SAT scores, personal essays and financial aid. It's almost enough for some parents to throw up their hands and say, "Fine, have it your way—skip college and go ahead and enroll in bartending school."

I said almost.

The one consolation is: We're all in this together. See if you recognize these struggles as you cry into your coffee while staying up until 2 a.m. with your kid filling out that Common App.

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1. They don't want your help. Until they do.

I get it. The college applications process is often one of the first steps for your son or daughter to navigate the big, bad world independently, and they often brush off your offers of help. How many parents actually get to read their kids' college essays without begging? I just wish they didn't wait until the last minute to ask you for financial information or the dates they were Jean Valjean in the school production.

2. You're having a hard time remembering when your world didn't revolve around college applications.

If you find yourself researching prison times for people who alter their tax returns to get scholarships from your first choice college, it might be time to step back.

Between filling out the application, discussing personal statements, touring campuses and meeting with college counselors it's hard to remember a time when you weren't living and breathing college choices. If you find yourself researching prison times for people who alter their tax returns to get scholarships from your first choice college, it might be time to step back and take a breather from the project at hand. Spend an entire weekend not mentioning college and take a short trip (not to visit a campus), visit a museum (not one connected to a university) or see a movie (but not one of these.)

3. Your tongue hurts from biting it so much.

You are there to give guidance when asked, not to offer your unsolicited opinion on why they shouldn't major in Fermentation Sciences. Also, I've found that saying the words, "Have you started working on your essay" every day for weeks can really put a teenager in a foul mood. Remember this is a really stressful time for your kid—my teens' number one complaint is everyone constantly asking them, "Where are you going to college?"—so maybe temper it with other topics. They might actually be relieved when you ask them nosy questions about their friends.

4. You're getting a twitch in your eye every time you hear the word 'FAFSA'

FAFSA stands for Free Application for Financial Student Aid, but by the time you start digging into this monstrosity you'll be muttering a lot of the other "F-word." I think it's an effective test; if you can make it through filling out the application, various website malfunctions, hearing their response, crying at how little money they're giving you and then appealing their offer, you can surely stomach anything college can throw at you.

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5. It's hard to block out those voices in your head. Or those of your relatives.

Pretty much everyone has an opinion on where your kid should go to school. But what if he doesn't want to go to the big prestigious university or is perfectly happy at what the local community college has to offer? This is where you need to stop, drop and roll—right into a dark, quiet corner and think about what is right and makes sense for your kid, and your kid only. Your child is going to have to live in that world, not the Uncle Teddy who says he'll be disappointed if you don't carry on the Yale tradition. You might need to take a nice bottle of chianti into that corner with you.

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