Many parents feel as if they’re walking a tightrope as they navigate their way through the college admissions process with their children.
How do you empower your kids to take on this new and exciting project and still make sure everything gets done? The college admissions process is chock full of details and deadlines: testing registration, transcript requests, campus visits, essay writing, letters of recommendation, transmitting test scores, etc. Many, if not most, 16- to 17-year-olds enter the process ill-equipped to juggle so many things simultaneously.
There are some areas where it’s OK for parents to get involved.
It’s just fine for parents to:
Help plan campus visits: Discuss the trip details, especially if it involves multiple colleges. Schedule the visits on the college websites and make flight and hotel arrangements as needed.
Discuss college fit: Help your children to understand the kind of college experience they’re looking for. Talk about size; distance from home; benefits and drawbacks to an urban, suburban and rural environment; their academic needs; fraternity-sorority life; sports atmosphere; and special opportunities such as undergraduate research opportunities, internships, study abroad, interdisciplinary majors, clubs and extracurricular activities.
Read over their essays, only if they want you to. Don’t edit too much or the essay will lose the voice of a teenager. College admissions officials have become quite adept at recognizing parental interference. Remember one of the essay’s chief objectives is to allow the college to get to know your child beyond grades and test scores. If the essay sounds like it was written by a middle-aged attorney, it has lost its flavor.
Contact the financial aid office. Don’t wait until your child is accepted to be in touch with the financial aid office. Ask them about institutional and departmental need-based and merit-based scholarships and work-study options. Make sure you understand each college’s need-aware or need-blind policy and how that impacts your personal financial situation.
Support, encourage and celebrate. Understand that as stressful as this may be for you as parents, many students freeze up just at the mention of the word college. They often feel that they are constantly being judged, compared to their classmates and forced to begin planning the rest of their lives.
- Support them by following their lead when talking about college.
- Encourage them to dream and apply to one or two reach schools that they have researched. At the same time, make sure that their final list is well-balanced with reach, target and safety schools.
- Celebrate all victories large and small. For the small ones such as completing college-related assignments on time or a stronger test grade, a heartfelt congratulations or “I’m proud of you” means a lot. For the bigger ones such as early-decision or early-action acceptances or big jumps in test scores, hang their college colored balloons on your mailbox, treat them to their favorite dinner or write them a note they’ll keep forever.
More Information — On the bookshelf
“In! College Admissions and Beyond: The Experts’ Proven Strategy for Success,” Lillian Luterman and Jennifer Bloom, $14.95
Lee Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte. Send questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org; www.collegeadmissionsstrategies.com
Read more: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2011/06/14/2377004/how-parents-can-help-in-admissions.html#ixzz1PG3GQ0gb