Launching your Student

A frequent topic of conversation among LAS Coaches and families involves high school students transitioning to college. Timing matters, so this is more like a perennial conversation during springtime, as high school seniors navigate college admissions letters and rejections. Though some students treat this discussion with a shrug or a grunt, parents may feel isolated as they converse with their friends, academic professionals, and the recesses of their minds. It can be a little lonely.


“I founded LAS in 2010 while trying to harmonize a lot of moving parts, marriage, parenting, and professional life. As a mother of four adult children, three of whom have completed their undergraduate studies (one is currently a college junior), I remember this time well. It was a little overwhelming but also included excitement, pride, bewilderment, nostalgia, and lots and lots of questions. Perhaps by design, I work in higher education, a reality that has allowed me to consult with people who often have solid insights on this matter”.  


LAS Coaches often discuss their students’ high school graduations and the transition to post-secondary education. In spring, these discussions increase, and become “frequent flyers” at our weekly Team Meetings, particularly as students review their admissions offers and rejections, and begin making decisions about their post-secondary lives.


The reality is that some high school students have not outgrown the support and scaffolding in their daily lives. Yet as they ready themselves for increased responsibilities and greater independence, that may not seem consequential to them.


Perhaps, college feels like a clean slate and if you need confirmation of that, just ask your high school senior and then try to interpret their shrug or grunt. The shrug may be like the one many parents and guardians try to decipher, before opting for a trusted friend or academic professional, or recesses of their mind.


If going to college is your next step, then it is a continuation of life and prior learning, not a clean slate. However, this reality should not take away from the fact that going to college is a new experience and there are considerable points of transition to navigate. That is why LAS recently held a somewhat prescient webinar titled Launching Your College-Bound Senior and began by asking participants two questions.


Question 1: Is your high school senior ready for college?


Question 2: Are you ready for your high school senior to go to college?


If I asked these same questions during the winter or summer quarters, maybe the reactions would be different. Cliché as it sounds, April showers bring spring flowers and for parents/guardians of high school seniors, those showers bring excitement. However, they also bring perplexity and tumult. So, timing matters.

For the record, Question 1 evoked curiosity (about student independence or skills around alarm setting and waking up for classes… on time)”. Question 2 garnered concern (about losing touch with your child or worrying about their safety and whereabouts while away at school).

“While I don’t think there are right answers to these questions, I do believe some responses work better than others. Maybe the answers are really about degrees of comfort. The closer we get to launching our college-bound students the readier we are or the readier we must be”.


We also explored participants’ questions and below are a few more from the webinar discussion. Remember, there may be no right answers but some responses work better than others.

Question: “How do I talk with my son about finding a roommate?”

Answer: Encourage your seniors to follow and like the Instagram accounts of the schools where they are accepted. These sites offer information about where to live, dorm life, and finding a roommate, and are authored by the students.


Question: “How do I find the best college fit for my child?”

Answer: Ask your senior this and keep in mind, that if you didn’t discuss the criteria before looking and applying to schools, now is a good time to do so. You could start by each making a list. Schedule a few minutes to talk about your senior’s list and then schedule a few minutes to talk about your list. Make sure to include financial considerations.


Question: “What resources do you recommend to parents with college-bound seniors?”

Answer: A quick search in your browser reveals no shortage of books and videos about launching your high school senior. Without knowing an individual’s preferences or needs, resource recommendations are difficult. However, I am also including considerations about touching base with your senior. 

  • Designate a time to meet with your senior (five minutes may be plenty of time).  
    • Ask your senior about the college choices ahead and then listen. 
    • Try to hear their ideas, goals, or other considerations without judgment. 
    • Try to hear what they are saying and not talk over them. 
    • This is not a problem-solving meeting. It doesn’t end with a solution (depending on the timing).
    • This is a conversation and could be revisited over the next few weeks.  
  • Before meeting, make a spreadsheet to organize your impressions, criteria, and questions.
  • After the meeting, review what you wrote and update where necessary. 
    • The spreadsheet is an organizing resource for you.
    • The spreadsheet is not intended as a mandate for your student. 
  • – A website for students and parents to research colleges + universities.
  • Scholar Ahead – A website for students and parents to connect with internships, summer programs, and research opportunities.
  • College Navigator – A website for students and parents from the National Center for Education and Statistics.

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