doubt-479567_1280I’m a Modern Family fan. Each week it delivers thirty minutes of humor and fun with a little element of truth. This week’s Modern Family episode focused on Alex and her acceptance to Cal Tech. If you’re a regular Modern Family watcher like me, you know that Cal Tech is Alex’s dream school. Claire and Phil (mom and dad) are surprised by Alex’s poker face reaction to her “good news.” As a college counselor (and mom) my thoughts were, “wow, these writers got it right again! They must have firsthand experience with high school students and the college admissions process.”

For many high school seniors getting the college acceptance letter is a time to celebrate, especially when it’s your first choice college. For others, receiving good news from admissions brings mixed emotions. Students work tirelessly to earn good grades, high test scores and craft strong college essays to get into their right fit colleges. However, many feel overwhelmed or even paralyzed by the next steps.

Going to college is a big life transition. Students who attend a residential college leave behind the familiar: their home, family, and friends. Even the most confident students often experience self-doubt. Many students worry about the following:

  • Will I make friends? Even the most gregarious students worry that making new friends in a new place will be challenging. Most students have the same group of friends throughout high school and, for some, most of their growing up years. There is a comfort level knowing everyone. The good news is that everyone entering college will be open to meeting new people and making new friends.
  • Will I be able to find my niche? It’s important to join clubs and organizations at school your first semester. Students may not find the right clubs and organization immediately. That’s ok. There are many clubs on campus. So, if the first two don’t work, try another two! Students who are involved on campus are more likely to succeed academically and socially.
  • Will I be able to manage my time on my own? For many high school students teachers and parents have helped them prioritize their schoolwork, extracurricular activities and personal obligations. In college, no one is going to remind students to get up for class, do their homework, or do their laundry. For many students this freedom sounds like a dream come true, but it also requires maturity and self-discipline. Students should begin managing their time now to prepare for an easier transition.
  • Will I be able to handle the work? Even if a student is an overachiever like Alex in high school, this is a common concern. It’s true that college courses are more demanding than high school courses, and they generally require much more reading. However, remember that middle school was more challenging than elementary school, and high school was more demanding than middle school. This is the natural progression, and everyone entering college is faced with the same new challenges.

At the end of the Modern Family episode, Jay (Grandpa) has a heartfelt moment with Alex. He acknowledges her fears about college, but he also tells her that he believes she is prepared for the challenges that lie ahead. Parents don’t panic if your sons or daughters seem a bit underwhelmed with their good news. Be patient with them, and let them know they’re ready for the next step…college!



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College Acceptance Angst–“Modern Family” Gets It Right
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