Parent tips for helping with college applications

Parents should not:

  • Work on their student’s applications. The work on the application should be the student’s alone.
  • Say or think “we are applying,” “we are interviewing,” or “we hope to attend…” Your child is the one going to college. This is about your child not about you.
  • Try to meet with the college counselor without their student. If we meet, your student needs to be there; Your child’s the one who is going to college. I am happy to chat on the phone or swap e-mails, but all meetings involve your student.
  • Discuss college at every possible opportunity. Schedule a regular time to talk about college so that your student can be prepared and thoughtful.
  • Utter “that’s not a good school.” If you don’t think it’s a good match, be ready to say why.
  • Open your child’s admission decision letters or access your child’s on-line accounts with colleges. These decisions are the student’s and they should be the one to break the news to you.
  • Compare your child to other students. What’s good or right for others is not necessarily good or right for your student. Recognize your child for the dynamic and distinctive individual that he/she is.
  • Equate your student’s value with your child’s grades, test scores, college acceptances or rejections. You know he/she’s so much more than that.

Parents should:

  • Let their students take the lead.
  • Read the book, Letting Go: A Parent’s Guide to Understanding the College Years by Karen Levin Coburn and Madge Lawrence Treeger.
  • Be a source of hope, encouragement and comfort for your student.
  • Be a sounding board.
  • Be open to schools you’ve never heard of.
  • Have a frank conversation with your student if there are financial limitations or other parameters that will affect your child’s college search.
  • Prepare your child to begin to live independently—discuss how to budget money, how to do laundry, how to fill a prescription, get his/her car’s oil
  • changed, etc. Think about the things you do for your child now that he/she will need to do on their own!
  • Help with organizational aspects—files, calendars, time lines, etc.—of the search process and the logistics of college visits—arranging travel, making appointments, etc.—if your student is open to it.
  • Feel free to call me if you need to vent or express anxiety. I guarantee your student has more than enough on their plate in tackling this process and you do not want him/her to be any more anxious. If you need to freak out a little bit, don’t do it in front of your child, call me instead.
  • Be patient… really patient!
  • Celebrate the fact that your student is on their way to becoming a young adult part of which means making their own decisions. Let him/her make those decisions!