Raising Teens

A site for parents of teens striving for sanity

Category: college (page 1 of 2)

What do you when your teenager doesn’t want to go to college

to go or not to go to college


On those rare occasions that I have conversation with my son about his future, I try not to pry too much and let him do all the talking. So, one day Matthew decided to tell me that he doesn’t know  if he wants to go to college.

My first reaction was,  “You will be going to college. Are you crazy?”  But I took a deep breath, and told Matthew he still has  two years to decide what he wants to do after high school. He is 16 years old and a high school sophomore.  I know some 16 year olds may already know what they want to do when they graduate and where they want to go to college.  However, not all teenagers know. They are all different and that’s okay.

Stress, I truly believe, has a lot to do with it.  Teenagers have so much homework and so much studying that often they can’t see their future, and the thought of more work in college scares them.


should teenagers to to college

I told Matthew we will cross that bridge when we get to it, and we will take one day at a time. He said, ” I don’t  want to waste your money on college.  I would rather take a year off and then decide.” I told him I appreciated that he didn’t want to waste our money and his time going to college, but I hope he  changes his mind.  I told him he could take a “gap year” if he felt it  is what he needs.

I truly felt trying to talk to him out of not going to college at this point would be useless. I remember my daughter Olivia’s thoughts about college when she was 16, and she did a full 180 by the time she graduated.  I think what I do need to worry about is Matthew’s stress and anxiety and how to help him work through it. I guess my gut as a mom tells me he will change his mind because he is a smart kid and knows that without education, it is more difficult to succeed in life.  Matthew just needs to mature and grow up  some more before making any decisions about his future.

So for now, I continue to listen when he wants to talk, which is rare for a teenage boy. I  try to help him  work through the stress and anxiety, and of course, I try to guide him to make smart decisions for his future.  Because in the end, parents get blamed 10 or 15 years later when their children’s lives are not how they planned, even if we let them choose the path they want to follow.

How to Make the College Application Process Less Stressful

I am on the phone with a teenager, talking about her college applications when her father enters the room, makes a comment to her and the two begin fighting. Unfortunately, this scenario is not uncommon. If you have a high school senior, be ready for some arguments over college applications.

The college application process is stressful for teens and for their parents. Some of us have kids who are all in. They want to go to college and they want to get their applications done.  But even if they want to do it all by themselves, they get overwhelmed.

Then, there are the teens who aren’t motivated at all to fill out college applications. They aren’t sure whether they even want to go to college, or they just don’t want to put in the effort to apply.

In either scenario there is one thing in common: a stressed out parent!

I know because I have been that stressed out parent. As a writer, I wanted to help my older son with his common app essay. He refused to let me, or to even consider my suggestions. It led to some awful fights.

Most high school seniors are in the thick of the application process right now. What they quickly discover is that there is a LOT involved in the process. So parents, here are my five suggestions for holding onto your sanity during the process.


  1.  Prepare a list together. Work with your teen on a list of schools and make sure they are colleges or universities you an afford.  Ask your teen what major he or she is interested in or considering  and make sure the colleges on that list have that major. Once the list is made, put the responsibility in your teen’s hands for applying on time.
  2.  Don’t nag. Once your teen knows the deadlines, nagging only makes things more tense. It’s okay to check in every so often on progress, but it’s not okay to continually remind your teen that applications need to get done. It only creates tension. If your teen is independent enough to go to college, he or she should be able to get the application done by deadline — or ask for your help.
  3. Don’t get offended.  If your teen doesn’t take your advice or suggestions, it’s normal. If you want to give an opinion or make a suggestion, be prepared for your teen to dismiss what you have to say.
  4.  Be open to options.  If the application process becomes too contentious, back off. In the end, your teen needs to own it. Or, if your teen isn’t ready for college, don’t freak out. There are great vocational schools and certificate programs that can lead to high paying jobs.
  5.  Consider getting help. There are people who you can provide guidance, not just college advisors but sometimes teachers at your teen’s school or friends who are strong in grammar.  It’s amazing how when someone else tells your teen the exact same thing you do, they listen.

The college application process is a year long process of applying, getting accepting, making housing deposits and making a final choice. It’s a year where there may be lots of tears of frustration and elation – and almost always some arguments. Just hang in there! It will all work out!

So, what are your thoughts…..do you believe parents should be highly involved in the process, or do you believe in a completely hands off approach?

Lessons of a college student: Things don’t always go as planned

Olivia’s first night in her new apartment at college had some bumps, but to her they felt more like mountains.

First, her closet shelf with ALL her clothes fell.










The property manager sent someone the next day to install a new shelf.

Then, Olivia  texted me frantically that she had a water leak  under her bathroom sink and the bathroom’s electric outlet wasn’t working. I told her to let the management know and they would fix it.

The next disaster:  Her Internet wasn’t working either. For Olivia the college student, the world was coming to an end! She was very anxious and overwhelmed and like a lot of impatient teens, wanted everything fixed — NOW!

Instant Gratification

This generation is so use to instant  gratification that if God forbid they have to wait for a resolution, the world  as they know it is over.  Teens are so used to technology helping them speed along whatever they want or need. Well, that wasn’t  happening here. There wasn’t an app for instant repairs…with all the students moving into the complex at the same time, Olivia had to wait …it’s called a process.

I told Olivia this was part of growing up, dealing with issues and hurdles and knowing how to get them resolved. Patience is key and Olivia didn’t have any. She just wanted to move into an apartment and have everything perfect.  Mind you, these are MINOR issues that can be resolved rather quickly and management did take care of them eventually, but in that moment, to Olivia, all the issues were overwhelming and HUGE!

Mom — and grandma —  to the rescue

Olivia  needed mom to help her see how minor her issues were in the big picture.  However, like most teens, Olivia decided to go on Instagram and post about her bad day. That’s when grandma stepped in. (Yes, grandma is on Instagram!)  Olivia’s grandmother (Manolaeva) saw Olivia’s post about all that had gone wrong and didn’t feel sorry for her one bit.

Here’s what grandma said: “This is a test of real life…that’s why I believe that most of today’s kids need to go away to college, not just for academics but also to experience some of the imperfection of life. Those are minor things. They’re fixable, and it all will be fine.”


The Resolution

At the end of the next day, everything in the apartment did get fixed. Finally,  I could talk to Olivia calmly. I made her realize how minor this issues were in the bigger scheme of things. She realized it, but said it was just a lot of aggravation in one day. I just said, “Olivia, it was just a bad day. Tomorrow is a new day. It’s not how things start, but how they end that matters.”  For Olivia and me, the day ended well, her school year got off to a start,  and THAT is all that mattered.


Helpful tips when shopping for your college freshman.

Seems like yesterday but, it’s only  been a year since we started shopping for Olivia’s college stuff.  I knew it was going to be overwhelming, so I decided I had to do whatever I could to make it less stressful. How bad could it be? How expensive could it be? Answer:  very expensive.  So if you are shopping for your son’s  or daughter’s dorm  here are some helpful tips to get you through college move in day.







  1. Make a list of what items your teen needs for college.
  2. Sit down with your teen and set  deadlines on what needs to get done and bought by what date.
  3. Go over the list with your teen and make sure they approve and the list is complete.
  4. Go online or  into a store to shop for the one area you are focusing on such as the bedroom or desk, bathroom etc..
  5. Focus on a different area until you are done with the entire dorm room or apartment.
  6.  Save some items for when you get to school. You may not want to lug a new TV  or other big items with you if you are driving or flying. It’s better to buy the big stuff once you get to school.
  7. Super Walmart is your best friend as is Bed Bath and Beyond! Your teen does not need top of the line products for college! You can pre-order everything in your hometown and pick it up at the store near campus.
  8. Make sure you son/daughter has his or her medical insurance card in case they get sick, or for any emergency.
  9. I know many colleges and universities have a medical clinic on campus which is great,  but if your child  doesn’t want to go to the clinic, I recommend a CVS Minute Clinic which is usually near campus.  At CVS, you can see a doctor or nurse practitioner and  get your prescriptions at the same time.
  10.  Books can be bought on Amazon to help save money. Not all classes make the books available on Amazon, but if you can save on one or two  books it will be a worthwhile shopping experience.,

Now, once your son or daughter lives  off campus in an apartment, that’s another shopping adventure!

Here are some more helpful hints….







  1. Shop for each room separately  (bathroom, kitchen, living room etc.) like you did for the dorm.
  2. Pick appliances and accessories that stand out so no one else can mistake it for theirs. Olivia chose a Tiffany blue color for her pots and pans and cooking utensils.
  3. Wait to buy some supplies for the apartment until you get there so you can take measurements and know exactly what you really need and the right size.
  4. If there is a dollar store near campus, introduce your child to it!!   Dollar stores sell a lot of what college students  need for a  $1! Dollar Tree allows you to order online and have items delivered to your store of choice.


Here’s an overall tip. If your son or daughter wants college gear, online stores like Fanatics.com carry a great assortment and will ship to campuses. Here’s a link to Fanatics College Hot New Products

Good luck with your college student and Happy Shopping! If you have any tips, please share with other parents!!

My 14-year-old son says he only needs 5 things when he goes to college.




Last week as we were shopping for my daughter for her college move. When we got home, she was so excited to show all her new purchases for her new apartment to her 14-year-old brother.

Olivia described each purchase with such enthusiasm! Her new duvet, her decorative pillows, her Keurig and so on and so on. Matthew looks straight at her and said, “When I go to college, I only need five things.” Then, he listed them:


  1.  A computer
  2. A desk
  3. Wires for computer
  4. Mattress
  5. Pillow

When I found this out, I couldn’t help but ask Matthew why he only wanted to bring five things. He said, ” I don’t need all the frilly, decorative stuff Olivia has for college. I just need my computer and a bed.” Wow, what a difference between a daughter and son! I have one that can spend like a feene and one I have to beg to buy things.

It’s amazing how some people need or require so little to get by and are happy, while other need so much.

I love how they are so different in their needs.

Do you have teen kids who are opposite in what they say they need for college? Do you have teen siblings who are opposite from each other  in general?


College move in day.. Super mom meets Super Walmart!

FullSizeRenderWell, I never thought I would see this day but this weekend, my husband and I took our daughter Olivia to Tallahassee for college.  It’s still surreal for me because we have gone through so many ups and down that I never thought I would see this day.

With all the challenges we have had with Olivia, moving her in for college seemed so far away. Don’t get me wrong, we still argue and have our differences, but now she is a bit more mature and responsible and she listens better to us. That wild teen from the  early high school years has grown up.  Thank God!

After months of shopping and packing for college, we finally moved her into an apartment near campus! She has her room all set up, her clothes in her closet and her bathroom all ready. However, it took multiple trips to Super Walmart for everything to come together. Here I thought I remembered everything, but once you start decorating the room, you realize you need a chair or curtains or a  bookshelf, or even an over-the-toilet shelf.  So where do you go to find all of this at affordable pricing? Super Walmart!

Every super mom needs Super Walmart! It’s our savior, our one-stop shopping palace! It makes our lives so much easier when we have a laundry list of things  to finish to decorate our teen’s college dorm or apartment.

For us, the end result was amazing! Olivia has a new home. It makes me happy knowing she created this home for the next four years and I was a part of it.

Tomorrow, I have to say goodbye to my daughter as she begins a new chapter in her life. I don’t know if I am happy for her, or sad for me. I also don’t  think it has hit me yet. Am I suppressing my feelings because I can’t bear to feel the pain I will experience when I say good bye?

I know she is so ready for this and she has been wanting this for so long that I know she will do well?   I know she is very capable of taking care of herself and responsible enough to handle what comes her way?

Why don’t I know is how  I am going to feel when I say goodbye. Guess, I will have to let you know after tomorrow. I also know that I am so proud of her and all I have ever wanted was the best for Olivia.  Even though she put me through hell,  I love her more than she will ever know.  She has overcome so many obstacles to get here  — more than most teenagers — and I just hope she learned from those obstacles. I believe in her and I believe that one day she will look back at what we went through with her during her teen years and she will say to me, “Thank you mom for not giving up on me and for believing in me. I am sorry I put you through hell. I love you.”

I am so excited for what’s to come for Olivia. I only hope she stays on track and reaches her goals.

It’s not only a new chapter for Olivia, it’s a new chapter for me as well. The journey continues. Stay tuned.



And that’s a wrap folks! Next stop..College bound!

My Olivia has graduated high school. Class of 2016 is moving on to bigger and brighter adventures!

I can’t believe when I first started this blog Olivia was  a young teenager and now she has graduated high school! I never thought this day would come with all the hurdles, challenges and obstacles we have had to overcome. This day seemed like an eternity away, and yet here it is. Next step.. college — an even bigger hurdle I am sure.

Olivia has been wanting to go to college the moment she started high school. She always wanted to be older and hurry life along. That has always been my challenge with her, to slow her down. I hope as she takes on the next chapter of her life, she has learned from her mistakes and will use those lessons to make smart choices and do well in college.

I asked Olivia how it felt to cross the stage and get her diploma. She said “amazing”. I told her, “Now imagine when you graduate college how that must feel. That’s what you need to achieve next.”

Now that Olivia is off to college, I am sure I will have much to blog about her adventures and dramas.  At the same time, my  14-year-old son Matthew will be starting high school in the fall.  Needless to say, I am far from over blogging on raising teens!

Who know what lies ahead? All I know is I am sure it won’t be dull and boring, just one big exciting rollercoaster ride. I just need to hold on tight and enjoy.

Next stop.. college!

Let me know how your high school graduation felt and about your teen’s new adventure to college.



Helping Your Teen with College Acceptances and Rejections

When my son got rejected from his college of choice, I didn’t know what to say.   I wanted to tell my son that everything always works out, but I didn’t because I knew that wasn’t what he wanted to hear while the rejection was raw.  (It turns out he is super happy at the university he ended up at). I wish I was better prepared as a parent to help my teen through this emotional part of the college process.


college letter

For all you parents facing March Madness, that time when the acceptance and rejection emails arrive , here is some great advice for coping from International College  Counselors, a Florida college advisory firm.

How to Help Your Child Cope with College Admissions Results
1. Say positive things.  Let your child know how proud you are of him or her for getting through high school and wanting to go to college. Even before knowing if your child was accepted or rejected at schools.
2.  Stay supportive. This is a hard time for a student whether they get into their first choice college or not. If your child gets rejected, this may be the first time they’re dealing with major disappointment. A parent’s job is to stop this from damaging self-esteem. For students who get in, after the initial euphoria, they’ll start thinking about what going to college really means. Leaving home, leaving friends, leaving a comfortable routine, having to find themselves, and make their own way is difficult. Understandably, this may feel overwhelming.
3.  Talk it out. Allow your child to be emotional. Talk about getting accepted and rejected and turn it into a teachable moment. If your child is hurt over a rejection, be sensitive and acknowledge the pain of disappointment. Then help your child accept that he or she didn’t get in and move forward with the opportunities that do present themselves.  Children who get accepted have a right to be proud, but help them understand that it’s important to be sensitive to the feelings of their friends who may not be so happy with their admissions results.
4. Focus on what’s important.  Let your child know that getting into a first pick college is important, but it’s not the end of the world if they don’t. Let your child know you don’t love or like them any less and they shouldn’t love or like themselves any less either. College is one step on a long road. Much of the college admission process was out of your family’s control. College admissions are highly subjective. A high GPA isn’t the only thing that counts. Maybe the band really needed a new oboe player.
5.  Get help.  Call or meet with your student’s International College Counselor advisor once all the results are in.  One of our expert college counselors can go over the pros of the schools a student was accepted into and there are a number of colleges still accepting applications.
6. Don’t let your child take rejection personally. Someone at the college just didn’t think your child was the right fit at the time. Your student may actually be better off someplace else.  Your child can have a great experience no matter where he or she goes.
7. Practice gratitude.  With your student, thank the people that made a college acceptance possible.  Think of the parent who shared the responsibility of driving hours and hours of carpool, a teacher writing a thoughtful college recommendation, a coach staying a little bit longer after practice, and a principal making sure the student got the classes he/she needed.  No child gets into college without a supportive team.
8. Say Yay!  Celebrate all the college acceptance letters your child gets. Getting into any college is great. Talk to your child about how he or she will let friends know.
9. Reframe the future.  Truly worried students may relax knowing that there is always the option to transfer. Our recommendation is to keep this as a back pocket option and not as a goal. Students who go to college with the intent of transferring won’t be able to enjoy the full college experience they can have. Once they settle in, many students are actually very happy.
10. Do something nice. When all the letters are in, celebrate the end of this intense time.  Go out for a nice family dinner, or give a student a meaningful gift. Make this time positive.




College Bound or Home Bound?

As my daughter applys to colleges and prepares to start the next chapter of her life, I asked her if she would consider going to college locally and staying home. Well, I might as well have cut all her hair off and taken her phone from her because that was the reaction I got. How could I even consider that for her she wanted to know?

I’m sorry,  was that an insult? College is college whether it’s  local or away.  Not to Olivia.college

To her being away at a college – whether it be a big University or small community college – is just that, “AWAY”.  It’s her passage to adulthood. She wants to feel she is starting a new chapter somewhere new, not where she went to high school and while  living at home.

I went to school locally for a couple of years and stayed home, but she and I are different  people. I get that. She knows she won’t feel like she’s growing up living at home. She says she won’t feel like she’s in college, just back in high school.

As silly as that may sound to you and I, to her it’s her reality. It is how she feels and I cant fault her for that. I need to support her in any way that helps her do well in college, whether it be here or away.

In the end, we all have goals and dreams and we set paths to get us there.  Many people may not agree with the path we take to achieve our goals, but, as I always tell Olivia,  it is not where you start that counts, it is where  you end that matters.  People may not understand your choices and they don’t have to. I know I don’t sometimes. But people have to understand that they are your choices.

So, as Olivia prepares for college life, I know she will flourish and thrive being away. Her wings will spread and she will soar.  She is college bound but  that’s okay. untitled

because I know when she wants or needs her mom or dad we will always be here.. home bound.

Senior year and mom is anxious!

It’s senior year! Woah! I can’t believe Olivia will be graduating next year- class of 2016!

I told her over the summer to please not rush the year. Olivia has a tendency to want hurry things along. Shes always in a rush for things to happen. I told her I will be very anxious this year so telling me  everything that we have to do in the next 12 months will truly put me over the top with anxiety. I told her to please, take it one month a t a time. I can’t handle more than that right now.

She was already telling me we needed to go look at places to live in Tallahassee.  I told her, “Are you serious?  You haven’t even started your senior year and you already have yourself graduated and in college? Slow down! What’s the rush? ” She says she can’t wait to be done with high school. Olivia is in such a hurry to grow up and be on her own.  She said,  “Mom, all the good places will be taken.”  No they won’t. You just want to secure that you are going away.  “Let’s see how your first semester goes and after that, we will start looking,”  I said.  Now the tables are turned and I AM the anxious one and overwhelmed. I think she likes the feeling that I need  her to help me  get through this busy year.

I know she can’t wait to go away to college. BUT, I told her going to college isn’t about going away, it’s about getting an education, about  your future.  I told her, “You mess up, you mess up your future, not mine.” She has to realize she can’t have it both ways. She can’t pull the adult card when she wants and at the same time ask for us to help her when she should be helping herself. Not gonna happen.

I bought her a planner to organize herself and of course bought  myself the same one. I figured together we can get through this year one step at a time and enjoy senior year with her as much as we can, even though she can’t wait for it to be over, rushing it along of course.

So for now, one day at a time and a calendar ready to be filled with deadlines, events and college visits.

Do you have a senior graduating  next year?  Did  you already have a senior  graduate? Any words of advice? All are welcome! Anxious momma here!


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