If you have a college-bound senior, you know you are thinking about college over the winter holidays.. You try to shove it to the back of your mind but it’s there, lurking in the distance. Even if your son or daughter has completed their college applications and received early admissions, there is so much more to do.
But add to the holiday stress and the entire family could combust. So don’t let the college to-do lists and the looming deadlines spoil your holidays. Here’s how to avoid a major family meltdown over the holidays and ensure that your student completes the important college tasks before the deadlines.
1. Create a to-do list together.
Before the holidays begin, work on a to-do list with your student. Prioritize tasks and allocate time to complete each of them. Form a parent-student team. There are a great many things to do and parents can help. When making your to-do list, use a calendar and push up deadlines for applications and college essays to give your student some leeway. Never wait until the last minute. That creates panic. Break up each job into small, manageable tasks. With every completed task, the stress drops.
2. Don’t nag.
It’s tempting. Teenagers tend to tune parents out but nagging never helps. It only creates strife and does not motivate. As a team member, ditch parental nagging for “business-like” meetings. Discuss an easy way for you to remind your student of approaching deadlines. Use text messages or emails as gentle reminders that a task is due. Schedule weekly meetings to discuss progress and offer encouragement.
3. Be aware of all deadlines.
Deadlines during the holidays can be a recipe for disaster. With so many holiday-related tasks to complete, it’s easy to forget about college deadlines. Unfortunately, there are no do-overs when it comes to submitting a college application. A deadline is a deadline; miss it and the opportunity is gone. Use some sort of calendar, either a large wall calendar or a family calendar app, to stay on top of approaching deadlines. As my former Marine son always tells me, “Early is on time, and on time is late.” Give yourself plenty of time to meet those deadlines.
4. Get as much done as you can before the family celebrations begin.
Once the holidays are in full swing, it’s going to be hard for your student to stay on task. There will be parties, family gatherings and last-minute shopping. Get as much done as you can early. Entering the final days of the year with all college tasks completed will provide a stress relief for you and your student. If your student is applying regular admission, the application deadlines will be in early January.
Don’t let the stressful college prep tasks ruin your family holiday celebrations. Staying organized and doing a little planning will help remove the stress of those college applications.