The college admission process can be overwhelming at times, causing major stress on both the prospective student’s part and their parents. While some students may have the “do it myself” attitude, parents can be quite helpful in the process. At the very least, asking for advice and guidance can be beneficial. But there is so much more they can do to help as the admission cycle progresses.
There are several areas in which parents will be most helpful. If you enlist their help, you’ll free up your time to concentrate on your application essay, preparing for the SAT, admissions interviews and completing the application itself.
Your parents can keep their eyes and ears open for scholarship opportunities in the community; and if they are computer savvy, you can send them out looking for scholarship opportunities on Facebook, Twitter and at scholarship search sites. Ask them to check with their employers, local organizations and with friends about scholarship opportunities that might be available.
Since most of the burden of paying for college lies with parents, you will want to find out how much they are willing to contribute and how they plan on financing your college education. Ask them what they expect from you and how you can contribute as well (a part time job, savings, etc.) Let them know that they will have to help you complete the FAFSA by providing your family’s current financial information.
Organization & Deadlines
Ask your parents to help remind you of deadlines and help you stay organized. Let them know that you appreciate reminders and that you will need their encouragement to stay on top of deadlines, along with their help to stay organized.
Your parents can proofread your essays, applications and any documents you need to complete during the college admissions process. Enlist their help regularly and let them know that you appreciate their input as well.
Parents can be a valuable sounding board when you are trying to whittle down your college choices. They will be able to help you decide which college is the better fit for you and the better bargain for the amount of money your family can afford to contribute. Help them to understand, however, that the final decision must be yours, since you will be the one attending and should be content with your choice.
Take your parents with you on campus tours. Let them know that you value their opinion and input regarding each of the colleges you visit. Oftentimes parents may see things you might miss and will offer some helpful input.
Parents want to participate in the college decision process. They are concerned about your future and want you to find that perfect fit college: one that values you for your contribution and will be a place where you are comfortable, challenged and willing to learn.
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About Suzanne Shaffer: Suzanne has been helping parents help their teens for many years and has created a Parents Countdown to College Toolkit specifically for parents to assist in all areas of college admissions: scholarships, financial aid, the application process, and choosing the right college.