The Role Of Parents In The College Application Process


It’s incredibly hard to believe that our kids are heading off to college or are already there. As parents, we reflect on their growing years, our involvement at their schools, at sporting events or making costumes for their plays. As our kids get older, we need to learn to nurture that relationship in different ways, always loving and supportive but not quite as involved. This is especially true during their college prep years while students are living at home. Our temptation to remain equally involved as when they were younger is evident with many. However, allowing your child to conduct the college process independently will help prepare them to be independent when they do go to college.

Remember that the student owns their college process. Parents, you are not applying. You should provide continuous support, be great listeners, but remain on the outskirts.

What is the parents’ role in the college process? And how can you help while simultaneously giving your child independence?

Things To Do:

• Keep discussions open about different colleges and their requirements for admission. Comment on your student’s projected college list

• Help maintain schedules regarding application deadlines

• Assist with college research methods

• Work on the financial arrangements that will support the college education. Explain any financial boundaries or geographic limits to your child.

• Get educated. Visit websites where free information is available.

• Help your child arrange campus visits and let them ask most questions while on the information tours.

• Take a close look at your student’s applications before they are submitted.
Back your child with guidance and support, but allow them to remain autonomous. You can make great secretarial aides during the college process: help with creating folders, electronic and paper files and an application checklist, but stay away from your child’s college essays! Parents can assist their child with navigating various college websites. Parents and students generally enjoy preparing for college life whether it be selecting items for their dorm rooms, navigating campus maps or discussing course options.

What Not To Do:

It is vital that parents do no college essay writing for their student or make major corrections on applications (as students should do this on their own). College essays must have an authentic tone. College admission officers see the writing score on standardized tests and a significant discrepancy would raise flags.

Continuous communication and listening to your student is crucial in determining what your student would like from their education. Your guidance toward appropriate decisions is excellent but be careful not to impose your own beliefs about what college should be on your student.

Parents, keep stress at bay and remain realistic about your child’s college choices. If your child does not gain entrance to their first choice college, it is not necessarily a loss but an opportunity to see what else is available – remain positive!

The most important thing is that your student finds the right college match… the environment that your student will thrive in socially, academically and be happy!