Say goodbye to 2020 in the best way possible

Yes, we’re all excited to flip the page on 2020. It obviously wasn’t a good year for our country or our planet. As we look forward to what will surely be a healthier year, this is also a good time to regroup and reflect.

Here are a few thoughts on how each of us can approach 2021 with a better attitude:

If you’re the parent of a college student who’s heading back to college:

  • Tell them you trust them. Let them go, guilt-free.
  • Assure them that you’re just a phone call away.
  • Hug them with vigor until they go and try to hide the tears.

If you’re the parent of a college student who will be studying remotely, i.e., living in your home:

  • Be patient and understand that none of you expected this was how their year would be.
  • Try hard not to interfere in their studies or even their job searches.
  • Pretend, as best you can, that they’re visiting for the weekend and you’re delighted to spend time with them. (I’m guessing I’ll receive feedback on that one, since my kids are grown and flown.)
  • Trust them but check in on their mental health – it’s definitely harder for some kids than others.
  • Don’t force them to choose a well-paying major – let them find what they’re most interested in, within reason.

If you’re the parent of a high school senior:

  • Encourage them to finish off their final applications
  • Research scholarship opportunities for them – check the institutional scholarships first and then check out and for non-institutional aid
  • Take walks and talk about next steps – get to know what’s going on inside their heads, i.e., what are their dreams, their fears?
  • Make arrangements, if possible, to visit colleges where they’ve been accepted.
  • Don’t badger them about school work (I’ll gain a few points here from the kids) – they need to keep up their grades, but colleges are unlikely to rescind their offer if they slip from a B+ to a B.
  • Don’t guilt them into attending your alma mater.

If you’re the parents of a high school junior or sophomore:

  • Think about visiting colleges this spring, if possible.
  • Help them to create a list of possible colleges and be able to articulate why that college is on the list.
  • Encourage them to do in depth research on each of the colleges that they think represent a good fit for them.
  • Share resources with them on student reviews, video tours, virtual tours, webinars with colleges, etc.
  • Go slowly, this is their time to learn more about themselves and what they’re looking for.
  • Don’t pressure them to get involved in too many extracurriculars.
  • Help them identify what they really care about and then dig deep.
  • Start researching summer opportunities now.
  • Encourage them to stretch themselves – try new things, challenge themselves.
  • Give them space to fail, it’s okay they’re resilient and you can be resilient too.

Enjoy your time with your kids. Hug them and then let them go.

Bierer is an independent educational consultant based in Charlotte, NC. Send questions to:;