I worry when this process shows its ugly head by making parents second-guess logical thinking. This happens. And, not just as we read in the press with American families living in the US. This happens with my families as well, all the time, international families who plan to apply to the US and possibly send their child to university in the States. The territory is much less known and understood and so the fear factor, I would dare say, is that much higher, that much more elevated for the international family going through the US university admissions process.
Which is why I worried this morning.
My student Rebecca lives in Latin America. I had sent her a message this weekend to see how the ACT went. She didn’t respond right away. No big deal.
But, she had responded over the evening for me here in NZ and I woke to a Skype message telling me that she was in hospital.
“What, Rebecca?! Are you OK? Please let me know you’re OK.”
The response was brief and misdirected, at least from my point of view:
“I didn’t take the ACT on Saturday. I’ll take the ACT in June and September now.”
I don’t care when you take the ACT! You’re in hospital! Are you OK? I didn’t get a response from her but instead received an email later from her father. In it he wrote to me quickly and hurriedly that Rebecca had been hospitalized and may have to be moved to another hospital in a neighboring country for better care and would that jeopardize this process?
Hold on. Now we’re getting crazed if we are even letting “the process” muddle our brains when health is a matter. But, don’t be shocked. This is not the first time I’ve had a parent ask me a similar question when their child was out of school for a long period of time or suffering through a difficult period. This is how we’ve made the parents to think. That any blip in the road will be a setback for the process of getting into a good US university.
Of course it’s crazy that we’ve gotten here, but we have. So, we have to help families understand how the process works. And, that no matter what, that health—physical, mental, emotional—always, always comes first. Without a healthy mind, body or spirit, the student will not be able to manage the process successfully. Setbacks will happen. The student will come back. There will be obstacles in the way during the process. We get through them and the student will still manage to apply and get in and enroll at university where he is happy and can be a great success.
This past year I had a student who was hospitalized three times with injuries. These were long surgeries with even longer recovery periods. That meant time away from school and classes, time not spent on the application process, a bottleneck of work accumulating and massive stress on the part of the student and parents. Not only did he manage—his situation could not have been less ideal, truly—but he managed with aplomb (and, yes, with hiccups) and he was accepted by his top university choices along with several scholarship awards. This along with major obstacles along the way. Things we did not include in his Timeline, you can be assured.
It’s easier for me to write this than to be the parent or the student in the precarious situation of unexpected pitfalls or complications. However, I’ve worked with those students and families who have befallen those situations, and they always, always come out on top. Right now it’s prioritizing and sticking to the basics. Sleep. Good and healthy food. Happiness. Working hard. Focusing on the self first. The rest will come.