College entrance puts stress on families

Tuesday, May 20th 2008, 4:06 pm
By: News 9

By Melissa Maynarich, NEWS 9

In the spring of 2008, a record number of students are graduating from high school, which means fierce competition to get into college.

High school junior Hillary Kesner and her mother, Janet Kesner, keep butting heads on the topic.

"I was kind of refusing to talk about it and she keeps bugging me about it and I just don't want to hear it," Hillary said.

The squabbling may seem like typical teenage-parent issue, but it's causing so much tension in the Kesner house, Janet decided to get professional help.

"We decided that we needed some counseling because we were just fighting, we weren't getting anywhere on our own as far as how much to spend, how far away to go and just try to figure out what your kid wants," Janet said.

It's a struggle in homes nationwide. ComPsych is a leading provider of counseling services for employees at businesses across the country. It reports a significant jump in calls from families looking for help for college-related problems.

"We've noticed in the last five or ten years that this is become even a more important service that people are requesting," Richard Chaifetz, Psy.D. CEO of ComPsych said.

Noted psychologist Susan Lipkins said she helps her clients look at the process from all angles.

Often, she said parents think kids who put off looking into college are lazy, but Lipkins disagrees.

"A lot of it is they are afraid of rejection, so they distract themselves with their friends, they go online, or they do anything but what they are supposed to be doing," Lipkins said.

Educational consultant Adam Metsch said parents often disagree about how much to spend or who will pay for the education.

Doctor Lipkins often advises parents to take a step back.

"Probably there are some way that they can make it more manageable, to realize that there's going to be time to make sure your student is ready to cooperate versus pushing them at the time you think they should be looking for colleges," Lipkins said.

Janet learned that lesson while in counseling with Lipkins for her son, and now she said she's hoping to make Hillary's process as painless as possible.

"I've learned that even though I think I know what's always right, I need to let my kids sometimes figure it out themselves," Janet said.

Hillary said the counseling has benefitted her because her parents are not bugging her so much about which college she should go to.