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?

Tammy Smith

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

There are no guarantees in life, so have a backup plan.  Talk as a family about what the options are if no college acceptance letters arrive in the mail. Students can work, volunteer, take classes at a community college, or take a gap year.  All of these things build both resumes and character and will likely give students a much better chance of getting into college the following year. Talking about and planning for the worst case scenario is imperative for reducing stress, should the worst actually happen.

Nina Berler
Founder unCommon Apps

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

Throughout the child's upbringing, the parent has hopefully been there to manage stress, whether the source is school, peers or family matters. The application process is no different. The parent should be involved, yet not overly involved, providing counsel and insight when appropriate. I used to combine college visits with pleasure trips to alleviate stress while on the road. If a parent senses that a student needs a counselor's assistance, they should calmly recommend that the student seek help. (Sometimes a parent may need to initiate a call or meeting.) Most importantly, a parent needs to reassure the student that whatever the outcome of the process, he or she will still be there to provide love and advice. After all, the parent will be there before, during and after the student's tenure as a college student.

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.

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.

Suzan Reznick
Independent Educational Consultant The College Connection

Begin working on the applications early and regularly

The Common Application(CA) becomes available on August 1st. In addition, many of the large state applications come online over the summer as well. I urge my clients, even before their college lists are set, to complete their CA over the summer - before their senior year begins. That can be a huge accomplishment and a big stress reducer. Parents can help the process by creating lists and/or excel spreadsheets of whats needs to be done and the dates due. While ED dates are usually due on 11/01 or 11/15- Early Action (EA) due dates can vary. Forms need to be handed in to teachers and/or guidance. Test scores need to be sent and lots and lots of supplementary essays need to be written! It can be a very overwhelming process for anyone, let alone a 17 year old student! They do NEED your support and understanding at this critical moment in their lives.

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.