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5 Truths From the Mom of a Recent High School Graduate

This beauty graduated on Saturday. Sophie gave us a weekend to remember. I keep going through all of the photos. Miley Cyrus' song, "I Used to Be Young," is playing on repeat in my mind.

With age, comes wisdom, though. Watching my oldest navigate high school and apply to college this past year provided me with a perspective that I could have never gained from just being a dean of admissions. 

Parents, if you are like me, you notice things about your kids as the moment passes you by. Don't overlook these truths:

1. High school is going to be hard.

That is a given. Make sure your children don't overextend themselves by taking more classes than they need, especially too early in high school when they are trying to figure out how to study and what to study. Taking five core academic classes a year is sufficient and encouraged by all colleges. That independent study they are thinking about is probably better suited for an honors thesis in college. Taking two science classes at the same time is for medical school students, not a 15-year old. Sleep and balance should be prioritized.

2. Encourage your kids to make friends, with their teachers.

Yes, they will need these teachers to write letters of recommendation for them down the road. But they can also be unexpected mentors, advocates, and cheerleaders for your child. A big shout out to Sophie's advisor/history teacher, by the way. He made her realize her academic worth.

3. The high school your child attends is not as important as what they will do while they are there.

Don't rely on the reputation or status of the high school to get them into college. They get themselves into college.

4. The point of applying to college is getting in.

Make sure your child's college list has an equal number of "Reach," "Target," and "Likely" colleges that match up objectively with their curriculum, grades, and test scores. This will yield the best results: acceptances.

5. There will be surprises.

Classes you thought your child would struggle in, that they succeed in. Colleges you think they'll get admitted to, but don't. And even sometimes an acceptance to a college that you didn't expect. Our children's missteps are just a blip on the radar. Their triumphs are epic and should be celebrated as such.  

READ MORE: Why Students Matter to Admissions Officers

The best feeling a parent can have when their child graduates from high school is peace of mind. You want to know that your child is ready for the next step, academically and personally. You want to feel good about where they are going. Yet, where our children go from here should never be about prestige; it should be about fit. When that happens, we notice the things that pass others by. 
Sophie's graduation proved to be full of revelations. Yes, she might be six inches taller than me, but she looks more and more like me every day. Her eyes are not as brown as they used to be. There are hints of hazel and green in them, like mine. She tilts her head like I do when taking photos. She thrives in smaller classes and environments where her voice matters. She knows herself and what she needs. 
While "I used to be young" like her, I am more aware than ever before of the things that truly matter as a parent. Being a parent is the hardest job I ever had. Best wishes to my fellow parents of high school graduates and current students. Don't let those revelations about your kids pass you by.