March Madness is here: For many it is the NCAA Basketball Championship, but for many others it is about Mutant Ninja Teenagers visiting colleges, being accepted at colleges and deciding what they are doing for Spring Break.
Spring Break for juniors means visiting colleges: family vacations revolve around college tours. These visits are a great way to learn about the colleges: urban locales vs traditional campuses, 5000 students or 30,000 students, a fine arts school, liberal arts college, a PAC 10 School or an Ivy League. While all of this is important, teenagers are also really looking to see cute boys and girls, checking out dorm room sizes, sizing up dining halls and admiring Greek life. Visitng a campus on a cold, rainy day with a terrible student guide is a big turn off, but having college students smile at your teen as they stroll along the campus is a strong sales component! College trips (and most of the pre-college experience) are meant to be a time where teens argue and shout…there is a good deal of pressure and no matter what, parents simply do not understand what their child is going through!
Spring Break for seniors is the culmination of the college application process: by now, students have already heard from some schools and are waiting to receive the rest of their acceptances or refusals (I have completely skipped the entire fall that is packed with choosing the colleges, writing essays and preparing applications. In the future, I will write about great college counselors; why this is an integral part of a good high school and a life saver for students and parents). During March Madness, everyone in the house walks on pins in needles as something strange happens…..a whole family becomes dependent on a life changing message from a college that will or will not decide the course of a young person’s life and perhaps effect the entire family’s future!
Spring Break for college students is the perfect opportunity to go on vacation, drink, party and be with their peers. It is a great break from the stress of the college curriculum and the demanding attendance at frat parties. Coming home to be with the parents is definitely not a college student’s first objective. So even if they are back home, make no mistake, they are mentally with their friends in Florida, Aruba or Mexico for March Madness.
I have experienced all three of these March Madnesses. They are all challenging: they require accepting that I cannot control what is happening in my MN Teenagers life. They require being flexible, understanding and patient. They require an unabiding belief that everything will turn out okay. They also require a lot of self inflicted tongue piercing and Pranayama (yoga breathing).
Yesterday as I stood at the hair salon counter to buy shampoo, I spoke to a lovely Ninja Mom whose daughter is a senior in the midst of the college lottery. She confided that she was so nervous and her daughter was stressed. This is what I shared with her and I really truly believe:
The college application process is unfair, life is unfair.
Most students end up where they should be and if not, they can transfer.
College is not the end of the road, just another (interesting) path our children take in their lives.
Taking a GAP year as my son has taught me, can be a valuable experience in a young person’s development.
The world is their oyster, our children are blessed with many wonderful opportunities; they need to work hard, experience many different things and discover where their passions lie (OKAY – I did not tell her this one, but I like it).
AND in keeping with the March Madness theme: College is like the NCAA Tournament – It is a wonderful experience, but after it is over, there are still many more hours and years of practices, exercises, struggles, tournaments and hard work for all the players to get better. The NCAA Tournament is not the NBA Finals!