How can parents help students with the application process?

College Admissions

Our counselors answered:

How can parents help students with the application process?

Sarah Contomichalos
Manager Educational Advisory Services, LLC

How can parents help students with the application process?

The best way for parents to help wtih the application process is to be involved and supportive while at the same time listening to their child's thoughts and concerns. Take your child on college visits but allow him or her to ask the questions and form an opinion. Encourage them to make notes after every visit and ask about their impressions. College tuition is very expensive and should be calmly discussed in terms of what the family's finances allow. Help your student brainstorm about possible essay topics but let him or her write it themselves. Make comments on the essay rather than do rewrites. Ask you child how you can help but don't take over the process.

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

How can parents help students with the application process?

The best thing a parent can do for their student is to help with organization! There are so many parts to the application process and similar to many tasks in life, it can easily become overwhelming. When it does, students tend to shut down and the process stalls. That is exactly when the frustration start to evolve between the parent and the student. To prevent this from happening, my suggestion is for the parent to help in the planning and organization of the steps that need to be taken for each college application. This is typically tedious and the part that students hate the most. By taking away this burden in the process, it allows parents to feel they are being helpful and allows the student to focus on more important things such as the creation of a meaningful essay, maintaining their grades and doing well in their senior year and just enjoying the whole experience. Their are many other ways in which a parent might be helpful depending on the situation and their relationship with their child or the students particular weaknesses in completing such a process but helping with the overall organization always seems to be a winner for the families with which I work.

Kris Hintz
Founder Position U 4 College LLC

How can parents help students with the application process?

Parents can help students with the application process by being informed themselves, getting their kids started early on, and providing basic "touchpoint" structure to the process. Micromanaging is not necessary nor advisable, since it is toxic for the parent-teen relationship and does not improve the student's application as much as the parents may think it does.

Reecy Aresty
College Admissions/Financial Aid Expert & Author Payless For College, Inc.

How can parents help students with the application process?

By reviewing all work for errors, either grammatical or otherwise. Stay in the background, but always be available for your help & support.

Patricia Aviezer
President Inside Track To College, Inc.

How can parents help students with the application process?

Although students need to be in the "drivers seat" during the college selection process, parents are a part of the team! Since there are so many changes occuring to the college admissions and financial climate, it is impossible for a student to keep up with all of the information flooding them. Parents can help by keeping abreast and identifying reliable sources of information. Parents have an important role in helping to arrange college visits, exploring career center and support resources at colleges during visiting and reducing student stress by removing obstacles and unneeded worry about test prep, SAT/ACT testing costs and application fees. Open communication, dialogue and patience are essential now, and parents need to resolve their own anxieties about the college decision before they can provide the best support!

Karen Ekman-Baur
Director of College Counseling Leysin American School

How can parents help students with the application process?

The part parents play in the college search and application process is always a very "sticky" issue. Students usually want to, and should, take the initiative in making the decisions related to their college applications. Parents will, of course, be involved with determining realistic financial parameters and filling out some of the necessary financial aid application forms. (With regard to determining financial parameters, the possibility of financial aid and scholarships should be taken into consideration.) Parents should also feel free to offer suggestions of possible schools for the student's consideration, but every effort should be made not to take over and steer the entire process. If a parent finds him/herself saying, "WE're applying to _____________;" (fill in the blank), that parent is WAY too involved in the application process. Even if the student lets the parent take over, that doesn't mean it is the right thing to do. Two easy ways for parents to help their children with the search and application process without taking over are: - Assist the student in setting up a filing system for sorting information he/she gathers about the schools in which he/she is interested. - With the student's input, set up a calendar with all relevant and important dates - standardized test registration, standardized test sessions, application and financial aid deadlines, interviews, college visits, etc. In order to avoid time conflicts, this calendar should also include important high school requirements - tests, papers due, and so on. A well-organized calendar will go a long way toward keeping the student on track. But what about students who just don't have their acts together with regard to pre-college planning? This can be a great cause of family stress! In this case, it might be advisable to contract the assistance of an independent college advisor, who can guide the student through the search and application process without having to deal with family-dynamic emotional issues. Because high school Guidance Counselors typically have very heavy work loads, it is probably not realistic to expect that kind of one-on-one assistance through the student's school. If parents and their child(ren) constantly find themselves at loggerheads when discussing college-related issues, it is advisable to involve the high school Guidance Counselor or to hire an independent counselor. In addition to relieving the stress on the family, the counselor will be able to provide much valuable input which will make the entire college search and application process much easier for the student.

Benjamin Caldarelli
Partner Princeton College Consulting, LLC

How can parents help students with the application process?

Most of the best things a parent can do should take place prior to the applicant process. All parents can take an interest in and be supportive of their child's goals. Helping them seek out opportunities to explore interests in further depth is great. Parents who have been to college can talk to their kids about what their experience was like and how they selected a college. Parents can also make a point of showing their kids colleges of varying types. A visit to a major city like Boston or New York can mix in college visits with other activities. This will all increase the students own internal motivation for the strenuous application process. During the process, a parent needs to make sure that their child is making appropriate progress, but keeping the college application process in the proper perspective is probably the most helpful thing a parent can do.

Suzanne Shaffer
Owner Parents Countdown to College Coach

How can parents help students with the application process?

Parents should help students stay organized, stay on top of deadlines, and help with the scholarship searches. They should also participate in the decision process--giving advice and guidance toward the final selections.