- They are tired (and so are their parents). So very tired. All the time. They go go go and then crash. They are very very tired, yet they don’t want to sleep at the times their parents want them to sleep.
- They are busy, busy, busy. They are so busy that they are being pulled in multiple directions. They feel that they have to do everything, now. Toddlers: You are walking, running, hopping, forming words, playing, and thinking. There are so many new things to figure out. Juniors: You are juggling sports, homework, volunteer work, time with friends, clubs and organizations, and so much more. There is not enough time in the day for you!
- They want to try new things. They are discovering that this is the time in their life to try something new and take a risk. Toddlers: You may be attempting to climb out of your crib or seeing what happens when you rip off your diaper. Juniors: You may be figuring out whether you want to take a gap year and travel to Africa or head straight to college to study engineering - you all want to try something new.
- They are starting to figure out what they like and what they don’t like. Their tastes, values, and goals are developing. Toddlers: You are slowly figuring out the difference between broccoli and chicken nuggets. Juniors: You are deciding whether you want to go to college in a city or rural area or a small school or a big school (and many other things!).
- They aren’t sure how far away they want to get from their parents. There is still a lot of uncertainty about what it means to spread their wings and fly from the nest. Toddlers: You are thinking about how quickly you can drop your parent’s hand and run toward the parking lot. Those glances over the shoulder to make sure a parent is still behind you are still frequent but becoming more fleeting. Juniors: You may be thinking about which coast you want to be on. Do you want to be within a 10 mile radius of home or as far away as possible?
- They are easily attracted to (and distracted by) bright, shiny things. There are a lot of temptations out there in the world. Toddlers: You may think there is nothing more attractive than your parent’s cell phone screen or the flashy singing toy specifically designed to annoy said parent but there is much more out there to explore. Juniors: You may be easily attracted to the college with the best dorm room or swimming pool. Look deeper. What about the academic program you are interested in? How does advising work? Don’t let the bright shiny things steal your attention from the more important things.
- They want to push limits. When you tell them “no” it will likely make them want to continue to test the boundaries. Toddlers: You may be thinking about how you can climb up on the bookshelf (or counter, table, staircase, dog, etc) Will anyone notice? What if you throw your sippy cup (or plate, bowl, spoon, etc.) on the floor again? What will happen? Juniors: You may be thinking about pushing your own admission limits. How many schools can you apply to? How many of those will be “reach schools”? What are your reach schools? What can your family afford?
- They care what others think: They are still heavily influenced by the important people in their life. Friends, family, teachers, coaches, etc. Toddlers: You are constantly looking for approval. Will you get a sticker if you go potty? Will your mom hug you if you fall? Juniors: You may be concerned with where your friends in high school are looking at college and what people will think if you go to a college many have never heard of before. Where do you want to go? Where is the best fit?
- People are constantly testing them. Our culture is overrun with testing. Toddlers: You are being tested continuously by those around you. What is your name? Can you say “Mama”? Where is the apple? Can you twirl, sit, stand, roll, touch your nose, pat your tummy, or do the Hokey Pokey? Juniors: You are being consumed with standardized tests. The PSAT. SAT, ACT, AP, Subject Tests, mid term exams, final exams, and more. Will these ever stop?? They will. Someday.
- They are learning to ask for help. This is one of life’s biggest lessons to learn. Find people you trust and lean on them for support when you need. Toddlers: You are learning that if you bang loudly enough on the floor and scream “NO” at the top of your lungs, someone will come for you (after they have taken a deep breath and counted to five). Juniors: You are thinking about all of the decisions ahead. You know you have family, your high school counselor, friends, teachers, coaches, mentors and many more people surrounding you who are willing to help. You are learning to ask for help when you need it. Don’t be afraid to do so. (p.s. Climb to College would love to help you with your college search, wink wink.)
As the parent of a 17 month old, and an independent college counselor, I find myself spending a lot of time with toddlers and juniors in high school. Between playgroups and story time, college planning meetings and campus visit discussions, I have started to notice a lot of similarities between these two populations. Enjoy!
Climb to College is an educational consulting company that works with high school students and their families during the college admissions process. We serve students in Colorado and Vermont as well as across the country.