As a parent, you want what’s best for your child. You enroll them in the best schools, make sure they’re maintaining healthy eating habits, you drive them to soccer games, and keep them engaged in numerous extracurricular activities. But now you’ve reached uncertain territory: the college admissions process. Maybe you went to college or maybe you didn’t, but regardless, the college admissions process is far more different than it used to be. Don’t believe us? U.S. News and Insider have provided evidence of ways the admissions process has changed over time. If your child is going through the college admissions process, there are many ways that you can help your child with college applications.
First and most importantly, offer support.
Applying to college is stressful. Your child is probably overwhelmed with school work, extracurriculars, and a part-time job. Now in addition to that is the pressure of meeting college application deadlines. Schools like the University of Florida and the University of Miami have applications due as early as November 1. Other schools’ deadlines are even earlier!
As a parent, the best thing you can do is support them. Words of encouragement and affirmation can go a long way. If you’re the type of parent to show their love you can cook them their favorite meal, take them shopping, or spend time with them by doing one of their favorite activities.
Meet their deadlines!
More than likely, you’ll have to complete several different forms for your child. This includes the FAFSA application, registering for on-campus housing, or possibly assisting them with application fees. It’s likely that your child will need information from you to properly fill out these forms. When this happens, make yourself available and meet the deadlines they’ve set up for you. If your child has set up a strict timeline, it’s probably in order to meet the actual application deadlines. Because your child is dependent on you, waiting for you to finish their applications can be stressful and delay their progress. Make sure you’re doing your part.
Help them with their college research!
Making a decision can be difficult. It’s likely your child has never considered a lot of the options that are out there. As a parent, it’s important that you are doing your part in educating yourself on the college admissions process. Your child might reach out to ask your opinion on a certain school and you may not know the answer. This is fine. However, be willing to sit down with them and research the school together.
Sign up for newsletters from schools, peruse their websites, and assist them on virtual tours. You may not be the most educated on all of the schools they’ll ask you about but they’ll know that you’re in this together. Be considerate of their options and try to limit your opinions on out-of-state schools vs. in-state schools. Your child is important to you and you want them nearby, but college is a time for them to grow independently of your household. Think critically about the kind of student they are and what kind of environment would be conducive to their personal growth.
Remind them of important college admissions dates!
It’s senior year and everything weighs a little heavier on your child. It can be difficult to keep track of every assignment that needs to be completed or every date that is important. Encourage them to keep a calendar with reminders of test dates, due dates for assignments, and application deadlines. It’s pivotal that both you and your student are up to date and informed on the testing dates coming up. If you’re unsure about the timeline of the college application process, you can refer to Prepory’s College Planning Checklist For Seniors to help your student.
Help them study!
Not only is senior year the time your child is applying for college, but it’s also when senioritis strikes. You’ll notice they’ve finished their big research project, aced their midterms, and now their drive is slowly diminishing. This is not the time for them to start slacking off but rather keep their grades up. Help your student stay on track by testing them on their vocabulary skills, practicing math, and assisting them in school projects.
In addition to their grades, students have AP/AICE exams and SAT/ACT tests to worry about. One way to ensure your child is taking the time to study is to have them host study groups with their friends. This will give them a chance to interact with their friends in a more productive setting. There are a plethora of resources online that students can use to study for their exams. Khan Academy offers students free video content reviewing key topics on the SAT, ACT, and even on their AP exams.
Although it is common to think that senior year “doesn’t matter,” admissions officers want to see continued success and course rigor. Make sure your child is staying on top of their school work amidst the college admissions process.
Don’t take over the college campus visits!
As a parent, you want to make sure the dorm bedrooms are double bolted, the campus police are doing their rounds, and whether or not your child will be warm in the winters. However, it’s important that you’re not taking over the campus visits and guided tours. Oftentimes, the questions you’ll want the answers to, aren’t the questions that your child is looking to get answered.
You can offer help, but it’s important to remember this is about them. If your child is unsure of what questions to ask on a campus tour, they can always refer to Princeton Review and their guide on 60 Questions To Ask On Your College Tour.
Help them understand finances!
Understanding the basics of budgeting is important to learn upon moving out. Even if their tuition is covered, your child should still know how to manage their money. For more information on how to bring up the money conversation with your child, you can refer to Nerd Wallet’s comprehensive guide.
You should encourage your child to apply for scholarships. Searching for scholarships can be time-consuming so having another person helping you in the process can be extremely beneficial. Multiple eyes can help in finding scholarships that they’ll not only qualify for but also have a good chance of winning.
Sometimes you’ll end up taking out a loan to pay for college. Students should understand the different types of loans and how they are paid back. Helping them understand the basics of financing their education will inevitably help them be more financially responsible.
Let them decide.
While we always want to do what’s best for our kids, it’s important to understand that this choice is theirs. College is more than a degree to your child. College is where your child will learn things they didn’t know about themselves.
We know that sometimes students are influenced by their parents. If you went to Berkeley, you probably want your child to go to Berkeley but maybe Berkeley isn’t the right fit for them. This can be a hard pill to swallow but trusting them to make the right choice is a step in the right direction for their independence.
Sending your child to college can be one of the hardest things a parent has to do. You’ve spent their whole lives taking care of them and now you hope that you’ve raised them to take care of themselves. We promise you did.
If your child reaches out for more help, lend them a helping hand. If they seem to have a handle on it, let them take the reins. However you decide to navigate the college admissions process is up to you.