Some kids are just naturally organized and independent. Others might need a fire lit under them. I think a parent’s most important role is knowing which their kid is and playing the appropriate role based on this. It is very important to work with your kids on organizational planning during the college application process. Buy them a planner! If you don’t want to be in charge of this process (and you probably shouldn’t be), then hiring an educational consultant to help is a good way to go.
Every family’s dynamic will be different, so take the cue from your teen and be content with your supporting role in this process. An offer to work with an independent educational consultant could be your wisest move. By removing yourself from the nitty gritty of the application, you can be there to celebrate the successes and pick up the pieces. Try to remember that it won’t be long before your baby is an 18 yr old adult. The faster you embrace this concept, the better your relationship with your child will be. Keep smiling, read the Zits cartoons for validation, this too shall pass.
It is not unusual for parents to find themselves too invested in the college application process. The cocktail parties and PTA meetings can become events filled with “one up manship”. It may not be unusual, but it is certainly best to remember that the most important issue for the success of your child in college is “fit” and it doesn’t matter where Ralph and Ellen’s children are applying. Remember that this is your child’s time to be in the spotlight, and your student needs to drive the college application process. Be calm, be supportive, and remember that this process is not about you, it is about your child.
Here are some of the things a parent can do to help without overstepping their bounds:
Coach – in sports, a coach offers encouragement and expresses belief in the child, but never plays the game for the child, no matter how much he or she is struggling.
Completing and filing college applications can be stressful for students and for parents. So, how involved should you be as a parent? Parents can be a great support to their children as long as they are helping and not taking over the process. Remember, the work needs to be done by the student, after all, they are the ones planning on going to college. You can certainly be helpful by offering some organizational tips, set up a calendar of deadlines, and offer them answers to data driven questions that are on the application, As parents you can assist them with signing up for standardize testing that may be needed and help them get to the campus for a visit. You can make a difference by taking on the financial questions, It takes time to research information on financial aid and scholarships and this can be huge help to students while they are focusing on essays, asking for letters of recommendations, and developing their activities resume. Encourage your child to visit with their counselor for further direction. If they need help with essays, offer your opinion, but let them take the lead. If you feel your are too involved, let the English teachers review their writing. Your child will be so proud of their accomplishments if they own it. Help build their confidence by offering support as needed.
There is no one answer for every student or family. Some students seek out the advice and expertise of the parent, but others don’t. Parents will find their role in much the same way as they did for other aspects of raising that particular child. That involves initiating conversation, putting forth reasonable expectations and providing guidance and insight during the sensitive application season. Hopefully, there is always healthy dialogue between parent and prospective applicant. If there are concerns about financial aid, parents have to be sure to talk to the student so that the appropriate forms are filed on a timely basis. Also, parents can often, but not always, serve as good proofreaders of college apps. Parents should beware of dictating college options and hindering the creative process of application essays, as that is sure to backfire. However, they should not hesitate to contact guidance or other college counselors when they have questions about any aspect of the process.
visit departments and check out the activities. speak to student advisory, ask about rention and graduation rate, find out more information about carrer placement services, and have lunch at the student center
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.
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 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.
Parents should be supportive and encouraging.
Your role should be positive and encouraging. Offer additional resources, like tutoring, only when needed but early enough to make a difference. 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. Be very clear early in the process about any financial issues that may limit school choices. There is no need for your child to be disappointed late in the process.
Parents need to be encouraging and realistic. By encouraging, parents should be open to talk about all options, visit the campuses with your child, help provide access to information, take them to college fairs, talk about career possibilities, etc. This should be open conversations while the student is exploring without “judgment.” Frequently, junior college might be an option that a student is considering because he/she might not feel ready to jump into a university, but don’t necessarily believe that their parents see the junior college system as an option. All options should be considered. Being realistic is also important. Students need to know how much financial help parents are capable of providing. I’ve had students who have worked for three years thinking that they were going to going to a particular school only to find out during their senior year that the family’s financial situation would not allow such an expense. I believe that parents need to be honest in terms of how much money is there and what are their expectations as parents. Is the student going to need to work? Is there a particular institution that the parents would not support? This is a good opportunity for lots of discussions between parents and their children.
Students should be the CEO of the process. Students manage the process and make decisions. Parents serve an important role as key investors, as such they should outline expectations and parameters at the beginning of the process and then turn the reigns over. Investors shouldn’t be entangled in day to day operations.
I entered this same answer for another question with a similar formulation.
A parents role for their child during this phase is two-fold – Listen and Support
Listen to your child’s dreams for their life; it is not yours to relive through your child, therefore listen and wait to be asked for help. You can make suggestions but do not ignore what your child is saying by forcing your dreams on them
Support your child by educating them, not with words but with real information. Example: When my current high school senior said she wanted to major in Film my husband went ballistic because this child is an absolute genius (no exaggeration) in many areas she has never had to study and was selected from over a thousand students to attend a prestigious high school for her junior and senior year. So he was not very happy with her decision. I on the other hand (only because I work with students daily) stated that it was a great idea since she was so talented and that if she wanted to do film let’s check out a few film schools. We did; this was last summer we went to NYU, Chicago, CA and a few others. As time has progressed; mind you before the August application period began she made a decision to study Biotechnology at NYU and go to med school at Baylor for OBGYN and minor in film at NYU. She applied early decision and in a week will know if she has been admitted. But my husbands reaction led to a huge argument, mine led to researching the field and letting her make the decision for her future.
Listen – To the fears, the uncertainty, and pressure of having to know their whole life at 17
Support – support by giving information via bookstore, online, visits etc. and letting them know they can be undecided, that’s what those first two years of general studies allows: exploration
you, the parent. Or, at least it should. This is the first step to the transition away from home to an independent life. You need to help, you need to guide and you need to keep open lines of communication. Your teenager wants to be independent but also needs the comfort and advice of his family.
The best role for any parent over the course of the college search and application process is that of supporter. It needs to be their process and the adults need to fade into the background offering support. While parents may have experiences to share, the changes in the process make even those of limited value. In the end, the best assistance a parent can offer is support and a faith in their children’s decision making ability. They are the ones who will go to college and how they handle the process–if we let them–helps show if they are ready. Ultimately, it must be about them. Parents can and should serve as sounding boards and where there are financial considerations, they owe it to their children to be honest about what that means. Ultimately it is about them, not us. . Take them on visits and tours, answer questions, offer support, but let it be their process.
You have always been a key player in your child’s life; now you have to take on a different role. If you can allow them, within limits, some independence in choosing their colleges, it will better support their transitioning to become adults. Of course, you can define those limits based on price and distance from home. You should be now be their sounding board, their chauffeur, and the holder of the checkbook. Try to support and help them make good decisions instead of driving the process!
This is a tough question because our young high school students are swamped with being good students, active in campus events, outside obligations, church commitments and chores at home there are very few hours left in a day. Do I sound like a parent of a teenager? I am!
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.
Parents, please don’t do this project for your child! Of course the kids are busy. They have school work galore, they have after-school activities, they have stresses to maintain their social life and enjoy their last months of high school. But you will not be doing them any favors by taking over the college planning process. Students have to own it themselves. There are important ways you can help, however. Initially, help your child set up a system for researching and applying. Maybe it’s a spreadsheet, or as simple as a handwritten chart. With your child, map out a timeline month by month. Establish a time (i.e. once a week) for the family to convene and check progress. Later in the process, parents can be a big help by doing the research for independently sponsored scholarships. This can be tedious and time consuming, and student are seldom motivated to plod through the databases. Parents can mark those scholarships that seem possible, record deadlines, gather the necessary application materials (they often include financial information), then let your child do the applicatons.
Try to be somewhat in the background, but be sure to review everything as a fail safe measure. You better have some ground rules about how much you are willing to pay, and remember this old adage – Before you begin a debate, you must define your terms.
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