March is prime time for college neurosis. Seniors are waiting for decisions and juniors are preparing to receive scores for the SATs they bombed. But if your child is under ten, or better yet, still in utero, you can alleviate a lot of stress by adhering to this handy timeline:
ONE MONTH BEFORE BIRTH -- Travel to Dhaka, so your baby will qualify for Bangladeshi citizenship.
BIRTH -- Send APGAR scores to the colleges you will be considering in 17 years.
EIGHT MONTHS -- Hire a college counselor and invest in the Platinum Package. The first challenge will be to get you on wait lists for the most selective preschools in your area.
2.3 YEARS -- Begin Junior Kumon.
3.8 YEARS -- If you discover that your preschooler is singing "Wheels on the Bus" rather than discussing Quantum Physics, consider suing the school.
4.5 YEARS -- Start contributing to a 529, which will be worthless when your child goes to college, but will give you something to complain about at dinner parties. Or get a job with salary increases of 6 percent a year so you can keep up with the cost of tuition.
6 YEARS -- If your child shows a proclivity for something "normal" like piano, soccer or dance, find a good therapist. He or she will need an interest like bioinformatics to be competitive during the college process.
12.8 YEARS -- Now is the time to reserve tutors for the PSAT, SAT, ACT, GREs, MCAT and LSAT. Prepare yourself for the reality that, even with a GPA of 5.8 and an SAT of 2370, your child will most likely be deferred, rejected or wait-listed.
NINTH GRADE -- Quit your job! The college search and application process will take all of your time and energy from now on.
TENTH GRADE -- Move to Oklahoma. That will not only decrease your mortgage, but also make it a lot easier to gain admission to selective colleges. Once there, have your child organize a fundraiser for the Chicasaw Nation. Then, force your student to forget about a fun teen life and complete all the other grueling tenth grade stuff that top colleges want: hours and hours of standardized exams, dozens of APs and multiple national honors. Don't forget about kissing up to teachers and school counselors. Continue involvement in an unusual sport. And for important tournaments, make sure most of your teen's competitors are on the injured list.
ELEVENTH GRADE -- You know the drill: Rural or Urban? Large or Small? Rah Rah or Nerdy? Come up with a dream college list and go on an eight-state bonding tour with your teen, who will rarely want to leave the car. Invest in a storage unit to keep all the brochures about environmental studies programs that arrive in the mail. Teach your child how to send an email without using the salutation, "Hey." Employ David Sedaris for essay editing. Hire a Summer Activity Specialist to find space in an innovative, yet down-to-earth program that the college admissions people haven't seen before.
TWELFTH GRADE -- Congratulations! Your teen has survived 18 APs, 28 applications, 17 test sittings, 39 supplemental essays, seven awkward alum interviews and nine hours filling out the FAFSA/CSS. The reward? Several acceptances in colleges that are no longer of interest because the tour guides had mullets. If your child is wait-listed, ask the Dalai Lama for an additional letter of recommendation. But at least you can be grateful that at least he or she is IN! Donate the TI-83 Calculator to the homeless, dust off those BB&B coupons and buy a memory foam mattress topper. And before you know it, it will be graduation time, so make sure your child begins filling out those barista applications now.