The stress over college is beginning to creep into our lives — FranklyStein


I’m starting to feel the college pressure.

With one daughter finishing her sophomore year of high school and two more finishing freshman year, I guess it’s about time. Surprisingly, but maybe not really, most of the pressure has been coming from the sports side.

MaggieUofRMaggie at University of Richmond with my niece, Annie.My younger daughter is on a club lacrosse team and all the talk in the past couple of weeks has been about college recruitment. Apparently two girls her age, but on the more advanced team, have already signed on to play at University of North Carolina. Did I mention they are only freshmen? Lilly, on the other hand, has no idea if she wants to play lacrosse next year much less four years from now, so the whole discussion is going right over her head. She’s still settling in to high school. Going to college seems a bit like flying to the moon to her right now.

My older daughter is just starting to think about the possibility of college. Last December, we stopped at my alma matter while passing through town and took a tour. At the time, she didn’t seem to grasp that the tour was for her. College still seemed like a foreign concept in her distant future. But it started to click a little more this spring when we went to a college fair at our local community college. It was the perfect introduction and it sparked her interest. She’s now thinking about what she might be interested in and what she might want to look for in a school.

Soon after the college fair, I received an email from the college counselor at her school. He must have been getting a lot of stressed emails from sophomore parents because it was a “calm down” email. He said not to start worrying about it just yet. He said to let the girls enjoy being high school sophomores, and we’d start dealing with college next year. I loved that email. It made me feel so much better.

But then the talk started among her swimming friends about building a recruitment profile on NCSA. I’ve heard now is the time to do it before we miss the boat. If she wants to swim in college, the coaches need to know. She needs to get her name out there. She’s a good swimmer and she loves to swim, but she hasn’t decided if she wants to swim in college. If she does, she wants a low key Division III team or maybe even a club team. But the pressure is on to decide and to get her name out there. It’s a lot for a high school sophomore to figure out.

My friend’s daughter, a high school freshman, plays multiple sports. She’s a great athlete but she doesn’t know if or what she wants to play in college. So my friend has been doing all the homework, learning all that needs to be learned and attempting to steer her daughter in the right direction just in case she does want to play. She was filling me in the other day on all she knows. These decisions need to be made soon, she said. They need to be seen by their junior year if they are going to get picked for college teams. It all made my head spin.

I played three varsity sports in high school. I was an ok athlete, but when I got to college, I didn’t play anything. The academics and social life were enough for me. When the freshman 15 weight gain started, I started running and biking — two sports I’ve been doing ever since.

So I’m trying not to let the pressure get to me. I’m going to let my kids take the lead. If Maggie wants to create a NCSA profile, I will encourage her to do it. And I’m not going to talk about college with Lilly anytime soon because I know she’s not ready to hear it.

If we miss the boat, so be it.

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FranklyStein is a blog by Chesapeake Family Magazine editor Betsy Stein who lives in Catonsville with her husband, Chris, and four children, Maggie, 16, Lilly, 14, Adam, 14, and Jonah, 10.