6 Tips For Parents With Kids Applying to College
Congratulations! Your child is finally a high school senior and about to embark on the labyrinth that is the college admissions process. This is definitely an exciting time for both you and your college-bound student, but also a time no-doubt filled with stress and doubt and anxiety.
Today’s college application process isn’t the one you remember, and you might be wondering how much help and support you should provide to your student while they are completing what is arguably one of the most important documents in their life, at least up to this point.
Regardless of whether your student knows exactly which schools they will be applying to, or if they are still trying to decide if they want to stay on the east or west coast, I’ve got a few tips for you – the parent – for getting through this awesome (and not a little bit scary) time in your family’s life.
1. Don’t compare yourself to other families. This, of course, is impossible. And you’ve likely been comparing yourself to other mothers and fathers since your child was born. This is more of a Life Tip as opposed to a How-To-Deal-With-Your-Child-Applying-To-College Tip, but I think it belongs here nonetheless. Especially in the age of Facebook, where everyone over-shares and everyone over-shares mostly only the good stuff, it’s impossible not to compare your life to the rest of your social circle. At this point, you just need to step back and realize that every family has their own path (with advantages and limitations that are different from your own), and what is possible for one family might not work for the others. And that’s OK!
2. Don’t compare your student to other kids. This is also impossible, but do your best to keep those comparison comments in your head. Believe me, your kid doesn’t need to be reminded that Jayme from down the street got a 32 on her ACTs and got accepted to the University of Michigan. Your kid already knows this, and is already doing the math in her head. Your student will be fine. Comparisons only build resentment, so do your best to be supportive and accepting of what your own student is capable of doing. If you need to vocalize how you feel about certain things, do it with your partner or best friend – not your kid.
3. Investing in a private college consultant VS. Not. Back in the day this wasn’t even a thing, let alone a thing to seriously consider. But things have changed, and getting into a good college is as competitive as ever. Plenty of parents have relinquished this step to someone with more experience and insight, and have invested in private college consultants to help them and their students navigate the college-going process. From creating a list of potential schools, to resume building, to curriculum counseling, and support with admission essay writing, these consultants can be a huge and valuable resource. They can also be a huge expense.
There are plenty of alternatives that are more cost-effective and realistic for you and your student. Does your student already know which colleges they are applying to? Do they already know what grades and test scores are the average for accepted candidates (and do they have those grades)? Then you probably don’t need to spend the money on a complete college consulting package. And let’s face it, there’s not much course-correction you can do senior year, so you just have to take advantage of what you have to work with. If you are looking for a college consultant, I do happen to know someone…(not me. I just work with students on their college admissions essays).
4. Read over the applications before they submit it. Not sure if reading over their apps before submitting them would be too overbearing? Do it. To me it seems like a no-brainer to have someone look over my work, especially for something as important as a college application. But before you look over your student’s application, read the next tip.
5. Make observations, not judgments. Out of all my attempts at taking yoga, this was one of my favorite closing words of wisdom. No one wants to feel judged, even if there are good intentions behind it. Regardless of whether or not applying to college was a foregone conclusion before they were even born, your student is actually doing something very brave by putting themselves out there, fully knowing that they are going to be judged harshly on their test scores, grades, curriculum, extracurricular activities , and what they write in their college essay. If you see something that can be modified in their application, bring it to their attention, but don’t be critical of their oversight. Tensions are probably running high, and sometimes even the littlest of remarks can set things off.
6. Bitch, cry, and complain to your closest friends (adult beverages optional). We’re all human, and we all get stressed and anxious and worried about what’s going to happen. College is expensive. You don’t even want to think about how quiet your home will be without your kid there. You’re worried that they won’t get into their 1st choice school (or your 1st choice, for that matter). Just call up your friend and vent. Don’t put all your anxiety on your child, or even your spouse – share that love with your best friend (and not on Facebook).
If you think your student might need some help with writing their admissions essay, you can check out the College Admissions Essay page to see if they would be a good fit for my course. If you want the opportunity to win a free essay package, just complete the signup form below. I’ll be picking winners by September 15th, 2015.
Congratulations, you made it all the way to the end of this post. Please share this with any of your friends who might be going through the same thing by clicking on one of the share buttons on the left-hand side of your screen.