Monday, May 8, 2017

Letting Them Drive Alone

I can still remember one of the most terrifying moments in life as a parent, the day my son turned 16 and received his official driver's license. We could handle the learner's permit, as we could sit in the passenger's seat and at least feel like we had some control of the situation. But when he arrived home after getting the official license and asked to go out without us, terror hit us hard. Even with his younger sister as a co-pilot, my wife and I were still terrified of what might happen.

But being good parents, we held back our tears and our fears and allowed them to head off on the longest 8 mile drive of our lives. My wife and I hovered over our iPhones, tracking every turn and stop, wondering why the map was taking so long to refresh their location. And you know what? They arrived safely. Amazingly, they even made it back home alive. And as the days and weeks went by, we started tracking him less and less, and instead we started celebrating the end to our child-chauffeur days.

Occasionally, there would be the small bump in the road, from the dead battery to a minor fender bender, but everything turned out just fine. Our fears of major accidents, our kids getting lost without us there to help them, and the unknown of who else is on the roads with them started to vanish. I even survived my daughter's spontaneous road trip through Atlanta highway traffic to go to a Sunflower Festival in Calhoun, GA without dying on the spot (I confess I did check her progress on the iPhone about 10 times though).

How does this relate to College Admissions? Well, in early August, about 3 months from now, the parents of the Class of 2021 will have to let their children drive their college forward alone. You will still be there checking up on them, texting them, and sending them care packages, but you will no longer be riding in the passenger seat. Those first few days will be filled with doubt, wondering if they are eating right, making good choices and meeting new friends. There will be a few bumps in the road, from that first rough test, a disagreement with their roommate or that initial feeling of being lost. But amazingly, they survive. Actually, they do more than survive, they thrive. They become a part of this amazing community known as UGA, and you smile.

For some of you, this will be your first child going on to college. For others, this is the final one (I am there with you empty-nesters!), and this will be a little easier. No matter what though, it is still tough to let them go it alone. But just like your children, you will survive, and you will thrive.

Go Dawgs!

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