Applying for college can be a complicated process. It is a lot more complicated than when I was in high school. There are test scores and transcripts to be sent. College essays and resumes to write. Scholarship applications to complete. Letters of recommendation to coordinate with teachers and application deadlines to meet. Parents often wonder how involved they should be in this process. Do they become the helicopter parent and take over the entire process for their student? Or, do they stay out of it and let their student handle everything on their own.
There is a middle ground here. You don’t want to be totally hands off and unware of what your student needs to be doing. This is just too important. But, you don’t want to complete your student’s applications and write their essays for them. Here are some good tips on what parents can do to achieve this middle ground.
- Be an informed parent. Come to college/testing/parent meetings we offer here at LCS and the ones we advertise in the community. You will learn so much and will be better able to guide your student. Ask questions if you don’t know something. Read the newsletters and emails the guidance department sends out. This will help you know what questions to ask!
- Visit colleges with your student. This will help your student find the right college fit. It is not about finding the best college but the right college for your student. Take them to see different types of schools – public, private, Christian, out of state. There are many college options out there. This will also help you learn about each school’s admission requirements and policies.
- Don’t complete your student’s college applications and essays for them. It is important to monitor this process but don’t take it over. I have had college admission representatives tell me that they can tell when the parent is writing the essay. Yes, check over their application and essays and offer your feedback. Your input is valuable and important. But restrain yourself from becoming that helicopter parent.
- Allow your student to communicate with the college, don’t do it for them. Admission representatives prefer to speak with the student rather than the parent. This shows them that the student is mature and can handle things on their own. This will be good practice for both of you when your student goes to college and the college will not communicate with you at all.
- Support your student through this process. The college application process can be overwhelming and stressful for some students. Many seniors are working on college applications while they are trying to write English papers, study for tests, and participate in extra-curricular activities. I have found some students to be very good advocates for themselves and can communicate what they need. Others are not. If your student is having a difficult time or can’t seem to get started, call the guidance department. We want to intervene and help your student.
- Finally, pray for your student as they make decisions about college. Ask God to guide you and your student through this process in making the right choice. I have seen many students end up at a college that was not originally on their radar. Sometimes plan B ends up being the better choice!
Mrs. Christy Lee serves LCS as the secondary guidance counselor. To reach Christy, you may email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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