College Bound

One parent's lament: "My child's college applications are a full-time job, and I already have one." Patti Nurse calls it the longest gestational period ever. No, not delivering a baby. Delivering a college student. "From the beginning to the end," says the business operations director of the time between her oldest daughter's course selections for junior year to her acceptances 24 months later, "it was like being pregnant for two years."  

Stress and Worry

The mother of three can laugh about it now, but back then it wasn't always so much fun. The stress and worry of helping her two oldest children with the application process the standardized-test prep, high school course selection, resumes, extracurriculars, recommendations, financial aid, and the applications themselves, not to mention the agonizing wait at the mailbox for decisions took its toll on every area of her life including her full-time job.

"Let's just say," says Ms. Nurse, who admits to enlisting neighbors to peek into her mailbox at decision time, "stalking mailmen was on top of my list for quite some time." Having experienced the application process as a do-it-yourself project for her two older children, Ms. Nurse was ready for some assistance when the time came for her third child to apply. She'd heard about friends getting outside help and jumped at the chance when she saw College Coach® offered through her employer. With it, she got workshops ranging from financial planning to high school course selection, plus stress-busting, one-on-one advising from College Coach's team of former senior admissions and financial aid officers who knew the admissions process from the inside.

Focus at the Office

College Coach guidance covered everything from school lists to essay writing to deadlines. "I loved not having to be the task master," says Ms. Nurse with a smile. She also loved the freed-up time. Narrowing the field of 3,000 schools to a handful of good matches for her daughters required hours of research and thousands of miles behind the wheel of the family car. With College Coach providing the road map, Ms. Nurse and her son traveled only to a small group of carefully selected schools, saving not only on gas, but on the number of days she had to be away from the office.

Then there was financing.

Paying for college could be a career all by itself with a foreign language of terms including subsidized and unsubsidized, direct and indirect, scholarships, merit awards, Stafford Loans, Pelham Loans, and the all-important FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Ms. Nurse knew families who overpaid because they didn't know how to fully access financial resources and fear of leaving money unclaimed only added to her stress. College Coach's financial resources counselors and workshops even assisted her with how to negotiate with financial aid offices. "By the time we were done," she says, "we felt certain we'd left no stone unturned." The ending was a happy one for everyone. Ms. Nurse's son was accepted by his dream school where he's thriving today. And while Ms. Nurse confesses to some latent mailbox stalking, she says she emerged from the process with her job and her life intact. "It was a whole lot easier to focus at the office," she says, "when I wasn't the one on top of my son's paperwork and application deadlines." 

Written by: Bright Horizons Blog Editor

About the Author

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The Bright Horizons Blog Editor frequently posts on the real solutions that meaningfully support employees, advance careers, and drive the world’s leading brands. The Editor curates the latest news, trends, and challenges facing HR pros because your time is scarce. Follow the Bright Horizons Blog to receive this insight in your inbox.