Six Easy Ways to Earn MVP on Turkey Day

Bartley Sides, Associate Director of College Counseling, Christ Church Episcopal School (SC)

In a few days, roughly 46 million turkeys will be consumed when our country pauses for a day of thanks with family and friends. However, one thing will certainly not pause this Thursday: the nagging feeling of anxiety and worry for the millions of high school seniors awaiting college decisions. While their younger cousins play football in the front yard, seniors may very well be cornered in the dining room answering endless questions about college from aunts, uncles, and grandparents.

I’ve had students share with me that they often dread family gatherings because of the questions, the unsolicited advice, and the comparisons between other family members, friends, and neighbors. To be fair, college is an easy conversation starter. It’s relevant, it’s important, and everyone feels like they have a little something extra to add. However, I beg of you: please allow the seniors to relax and enjoy their pumpkin pie in peace!

PARENTS: Maybe you’ve felt out of the loop on the college process or maybe you feel like you’re stuck in a loop. Whatever the case may be, now is your time to shine as a perfect example of what it means to be the parent of a high school senior. It’s your chance to intervene, to redirect the conversation, and to protect your child from the barrage of questions that will inevitably begin before the green bean casserole comes out of the oven. Here are six easy responses to questions that will earn you MVP on Turkey Day:

  1. “We’ve decided not to talk about college today and give him a break!”
  2. “I don’t know where he’s going to end up next fall.  The possibilities are endless.”
  3. “I know that everyone in our family has always attended that college.  She has different thoughts though on where she sees herself, and we support that decision.”
  4. “That’s interesting that you’ve never heard of that college.  We visited and absolutely loved it.  Plus, it’s where the school’s English teacher attended!”
  5. “She doesn’t know what she’s going to major in yet.  In fact, did you know that nearly ⅔ of college students will change their major at least once?”
  6. “We are considering the price of the college.  However, he’s applied for lots of scholarships, and his counselor is helping with that process too.”

When in doubt, change the topic completely. Let your child relax for the day. Offer him or her an extra slice of pie or another helping of a favorite dish. Your senior will be thankful for you.