How can I help my kid manage the stress of the application process?

College Admissions

Our counselors answered:

How can I help my kid manage the stress of the application process?

王文君 June Scortino
President IVY Counselors Network

How can I help my kid manage the stress of the application process?

start early in the process, have a to do list, follow up with the check list, and try to work with the school's counselor the best possible way.

Helen H. Choi
Owner Admissions Mavens

Be A Role Model

Kids WILL be stressed out about the application process. That's a given. However, parents can be great role models for their kids if they can show them that the process is manageable with good time management, realistic expectations, and a calm demeanor. If parents get hysterical or overwrought -- then kids will respond in kind. Here's one more piece of advice for parents that might help them remain calm and retain their good judgment: your child's college options are not a parental report card. If your child goes to an fancy ivy league school -- that doesn't mean you are a super parent and if your child goes to community college -- that doesn't mean you are a bad parent.

Nancy Milne
Owner Milne Collegiate Consulting

Application Stress

One of the best solutions may be to hire an independent educational consultant. This professional will be able to map out a plan, create a timeline and serve as an impartial judge. There is no better time for you to find your sense of humor, offer up a smile or hug and demonstrate that unconditional love. Remember, this is a "first" for your child, so it comes with unknowns. The apron strings will soon be cut, so emotions may run high. Offer you assistance, but don't be offended if it isn't wanted. Your student is learning skills that are critical for college success, let him make some mistakes while you are still there to help. It is not "our" application, it needs to belong to your teenager.

Bill Pruden
Head of Upper School, College Counselor Ravenscroft School

Parents: Help Your Child Handle the Stress by Reducing It

Nothing adds to the pressure of the college application process more than parental pressure. There is no up side to establishing expectations for how their process should play out. We had our chance. It is their turn, and the best thing we can do is make sure they understand that we are there for them regardless of what happens. As parents we get no gold stars because our kid gets a “prestige” admit, but we can hurt them deeply if we let them think that it makes a difference. Offer love and support, and respect their ability to handle the process in a way that is right for them.

Laura O'Brien Gatzionis
Founder Educational Advisory Services

Recognize that the student owns the process, and then...

Try to help with keeping the process organized. Make a master calendar or ask your guidance counselor for one and keep it posted on the refrigerator so that no major deadlines are missed. Assist with organizing the college visits and then drive there. Try to establish realistic expectations. Keep communications open. Recognize that you might have different goals or expectations and try to discuss these ideas openly.

Corey Fischer
President CollegeClarity

Procrastination is their worst enemy

The college process does not need to be as stressful as people make it. Independent College Consultants can help relieve a lot of the stress because they answer the questions and help keep the student on track. Starting early is a big one. Not just with the search process, but with the application process. The student should start on the applications in the summer. The biggest part of the stress comes from waiting until the last minute. They look at the application and think it doesn't look too long and won't be too bad, but when they actually start it they realize it takes a lot more thought and effort than they expected.

Patricia Aviezer
President Inside Track To College, Inc.

Know Your Timetables....

It's my experience that high school kids have alot on their plate already as they enter junior year with a schedule filled with AP and IB classes. Then there are the added responsibilities of SAT/ACT review classes and testing, college visiting, college list development, requesting recommendations, developing resumes and increasing their involvement; all add up to a very stressful time. Seniors are then confronted with the application completion and filing process, essay writing, interviewing, additional visiting with overnights, a tougher schedule than junior year and perhaps more testing. Parents can help them manage stress by knowing what the timetable is for the entire college admission and financial aid process. Gentle reminders can then help their college-bound son or daughter stay paced and meet deadlines. I would suggest having a conversation at the end of sophomore year about the upcoming junior and senior years outlining the timetable and coming to an agreement about what part of this process you, as a parent, could handle to relieve their stress. You may need to revisit these details as you move along, but laying the foundation early can help avoid stress during the application process.

Pamela Hampton-Garland
Owner Scholar Bound

Stress of Applying

The application process is stressful and will be until the acceptances roll in. However, to minimize the stress encourage your student or you take the responsibility to create a spreadsheet with all of the colleges listed across the top and the components along the left margin and make a check off sheet when each colleges requirements are complete. There is nothing that relieves stress more than seeing (actually seeing) your accomplishments. So rather than just mentally carrying all of the strain choose to check it off and let it go. When each one is mailed your child will see that they are making positive progress and that will relieve much of the stress of the process.

Cheryl Millington

How can I help my kid manage the stress of the application process?

School research and application time can be very stressful for both students and parents. I’m a mother as well and here are some tips to help your child manage his/her stress. Make sure that your behavior is not adding to her stress level. Be positive and encouraging. Offer additional resources, like tutoring, only when needed but early enough to make a difference. Listen to your child and only offer advice when asked. Keep the lines of communication open. Watch your tone and body language. Think before you speak. Your gut reaction may be the worse response and it will never be forgotten or forgiven. Give your child the confidence to make the best decision for him/her . Be realistic about your child’s options and help them to be realistic as well. No need to apply to schools that they have zero probability of getting into. Advise your child that this is not necessarily a lifetime decision; they can always transfer to another school after first year if they want to. Make an extra effort to engage in other activities, especially fun outings. Don’t make this period of time all about applying to schools. Double the number of times you say “I love you”. Remember to give unconditional love, especially when things aren’t going as expected. Good luck!

Dr. Bruce Neimeyer
CEO/Partner Global College Search Associates, LLC

How can I help my kid manage the stress of the application process?

Organization is really the best assistance that you can give your child in this process. There are so many pieces that can become a part of the process for an individual family that keeping it organized and all in one place can be a tremendous help. A calendar system can also be very useful. Laying out the complete college search and application process is critical. You want to pay attention and mark the key dates of testing, application and decision deadlines. Once you mark these into your calendar, you can back up from those dates to see home many weeks or months you have before those deadlines occur. Then you can decide what steps will be taken within each month. This will help your student to see the whole process and how each month has several necessary steps that need to be completed in order to keep it from getting overwhelming and a horrible experience. Always remind them that this process should be fun as they are playing a very active role in deciding where they will attend school for the next four years. Creating a search process that turns this into a grind results in poor decisions in the end. So, do yourself and them a favor and concentrate on this organized timeline and help them stick too it! You will all be thankful in the end.