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Dear Adina

How Do I Avoid Comparing Sibling Paths to College?

Adina Glickman


Dear Adina,

I have a high school sophomore who has two older siblings in college. How do I avoid comparing their paths to college? Unfortunately for my third child, his high school career has been upended by the pandemic.


Dear Parent,

You don’t avoid comparing their paths to college. This year IS different. But you can normalize the fact that every path is unique.

Recall the zillions of ways your three children have different lives to begin with. Everyone — I Mean Everyone — walks a unique path because they have unique feet, and therefore a unique gait, and what happens to be growing on that path at the time they’re walking influences that walk.

While your two older children may have had similar paths, they were not identical. Notice those differences to normalize the fact that differences between your third child’s experience and theirs is simply a new set of influences.

To be fair, a global pandemic is not just a “new set of influences.” That’s like saying that train wreck over there is a bit of a fender bender. The pandemic is unique in ways that other challenges are not.

Even though there were variations between the paths your first two traveled, there was at least a somewhat predictable process and a clear-ish set of expectations. This is not the case for your third, and there is surely a sense of grief and loss along with the confusion and uncertainty that is growing on your third child’s path.

The grownups have to show the way on this. We have to acknowledge how different and weird life is, and also how “different and weird” are ingredients for novelty and transformation. We have to keep showing ourselves and our kids how we are adapting and learning and making sense of all that is different and weird. It’s not easy to do that, but it will get easier.

Part of what makes it so hard to see how we’ve adapted and made sense of this pandemic is because it’s not over yet. This has not been an acute crisis like 9/11 or the hurricane disasters in recent years. The pandemic has been and continues to be an evolving and protracted tragedy that is still not over. When 9/11 happened, the shock was immediate, and we began processing that shock and the scope of the tragedy immediately. But COVID is still dictating how we live, so we can’t process it or get perspective yet. We are still in it.

Grief has been a predominant experience during the pandemic. Grieving takes time and patience, but it does eventually become less heavy on us. Young people have lost so much this year, and they must be given ample support in grieving those many losses.

But it is not a lost year. It is a life-changing, trajectory-altering year. There is still a future for your third child, and the muscles they will develop in navigating all of this uncertainty and loss will become cornerstones of their adult selves. Keep reminding them of that, and keep showing them how, every day, they move towards that future, and you see them doing it tirelessly and imperfectly.

Your third child needs extra support because of the extra challenges of pandemic high school and the extra wild and confusing ride his college application process will be. Don’t shy away from how different this is for him than for his siblings. It just is. Those differences matter.

Yours,

Adina Signature

Have a question? Ask Adina

Adina Glickman is the founder of Affinity Coaching Group, which offers academic, life, parenting and career coaching. She is the former director of learning strategies at Stanford University and is the co-founder and director of the Academic Resilience Consortium, an association of faculty, staff and students dedicated to understanding and promoting student resilience. Learn more at affinitycoachinggroup.com.
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    2 days ago
    CollegiateParent

    Dorm decorating has become an industry.

    There are professional dorm decorators, décor kits, Pinterest boards, etc. There are even colleges and universities with reputations for high level décor by their students.

    I’d like to share some thoughts about décor for parents and students to consider.

    Room Furnishings Policy

    Every Residence Life Department has a dorm decorating policy in place. It is so important to follow the rules to avoid fines for damages, missing items, etc. Many residence halls restrict the use of tape and adhesive products because they aren’t always removed properly and despite the “no damage” promise can damage walls and doors. Decorating policies can vary widely because they’re based on the particular building and its paint, furniture, etc.

    Furniture

    Room furniture provided by the college and university is required to remain in the room unless other arrangements have been made (for example, because of a medical accommodation). This means any furniture removed (without the school’s approval) is the responsibility of the student(s) assigned to the room. Work with the furniture in your space.

    Also, be mindful when adjusting beds because if the bed is damaged, you are responsible for the cost. Always contact staff to receive assistance. Some colleges have loft kits available to rent to raise your bed. Check your housing website or handbook for details.

    Roommates’ Décor

    Students (and their families) often get excited about decorating and want to include the roommate on the venture. While this is a friendly gesture, be mindful there may be limitations for the roommate. I recently saw a TikTok video where a parent asks their student’s roommate to purchase a certain set of bedding from Amazon. The student couldn’t afford it and the parent was upset and requested a roommate change for their student.

    While this seems extreme it’s not uncommon. Here are a few things to consider when it comes to coordinating with roommates:

    The roommate has their own style.

    Everyone doesn’t want to match their roommate’s décor.

    Everyone can’t afford the same things.

    A student can ask their roommate but there is no obligation to say yes.

    Also, a parent should never reach out to a student’s roommate without permission. If the families don’t know each other, it can cause anxiety for both students. Roommates should communicate with one another directly.

    Decorating a dorm room can be a fun, exciting experience. Of course you want to help make that space as comfortable as possible for your student! Just remember to consider the policies, be respectful of the other roommate(s), and don’t overdo the décor because sometimes space is limited. It’s best to start with a small number of items and then add if needed.

    Happy Decorating!

    - from LaTrina Rogers, The Dorm Mom
    ... See MoreSee Less

    Dorm decorating has become an industry.  There are professional dorm decorators, décor kits, Pinterest boards, etc. There are even colleges and universities with reputations for high level décor by their students.  I’d like to share some thoughts about décor for parents and students to consider.  Room Furnishings Policy  Every Residence Life Department has a dorm decorating policy in place. It is so important to follow the rules to avoid fines for damages, missing items, etc. Many residence halls restrict the use of tape and adhesive products because they aren’t always removed properly and despite the “no damage” promise can damage walls and doors. Decorating policies can vary widely because they’re based on the particular building and its paint, furniture, etc.  Furniture  Room furniture provided by the college and university is required to remain in the room unless other arrangements have been made (for example, because of a medical accommodation). This means any furniture removed (without the school’s approval) is the responsibility of the student(s) assigned to the room. Work with the furniture in your space.  Also, be mindful when adjusting beds because if the bed is damaged, you are responsible for the cost. Always contact staff to receive assistance. Some colleges have loft kits available to rent to raise your bed. Check your housing website or handbook for details.  Roommates’ Décor  Students (and their families) often get excited about decorating and want to include the roommate on the venture. While this is a friendly gesture, be mindful there may be limitations for the roommate. I recently saw a TikTok video where a parent asks their student’s roommate to purchase a certain set of bedding from Amazon. The student couldn’t afford it and the parent was upset and requested a roommate change for their student.  While this seems extreme it’s not uncommon. Here are a few things to consider when it comes to coordinating with roommates:  The roommate has their own style.  Everyone doesn’t want to match their roommate’s décor.  Everyone can’t afford the same things.  A student can ask their roommate but there is no obligation to say yes.  Also, a parent should never reach out to a student’s roommate without permission. If the families don’t know each other, it can cause anxiety for both students. Roommates should communicate with one another directly.  Decorating a dorm room can be a fun, exciting experience. Of course you want to help make that space as comfortable as possible for your student! Just remember to consider the policies, be respectful of the other roommate(s), and don’t overdo the décor because sometimes space is limited. It’s best to start with a small number of items and then add if needed.  Happy Decorating!  - from LaTrina Rogers, The Dorm Mom

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