The Best Way to Approach College Apps with your Kid

This week’s guest bloggers are my kids, Charlie, a college senior and T.K., who graduated college a year ago. Since I’ve written lots of posts on getting through the application process from the parent’s perspective, I thought it might help for us all to know what our children really need from us during this time. So here are recommendations from the experts, who know what it feels like to be on that side of the application.

By Charlie Brady and T.K. Brady 

Do: 

Create a network Before starting anything, set up a meeting with your child’s guidance counselor to discuss the application process. It’s less confusing for your student when parents and school administrators are on the same page. Remind your child (and maybe yourself) that this process is about them, and that you and the counselor are there to help in whatever way you can.

Set multiple deadlines (yes, plural) Your senior needs to feel that they’re making progress with the application process. This will also spell out how much work is actually involved, which helps prepare all of you for the months ahead. If your child can’t seem to meet any of these deadlines, talk about how they’re feeling. Chances are it has more to do with anxiety about choosing the right schools than laziness.

Encourage a safety school While you cannot force your child to apply to a specific college, you can recommend that they have one or two safety schools on the list. Your student may seem resistant at first, but all seniors are scared of the prospect of being rejected everywhere, so they’ll eventually take your advice. (However, if your child has been rejected from every college, don’t panic; read this.)

Get an outside perspective The college admissions essay is probably the first time your student has had to decide how they want to be represented in print. While you may know your kid inside and out, you don’t exactly bring an objective opinion to the table—so find someone who does. An essay coach can talk with your child on a less emotionally charged level, which removes the pressure they feel to say what will make Mom and Dad happy (yes, we worry about that) and allows them to simply focus on the most effective way to present themselves in 650 words or less.

Check their work This is likely some of the first serious paperwork your child has ever filled out in their lifetime. Read each application over before they submit it. You’ll both feel better knowing it got a once over from a fresh pair of eyes.  

Make them fill out the Common App Insisting that your child complete the Common Application will save lots of time if they opt to add a few more schools to their list later on.

Embed from Getty Images

Don’t: 

Helicopter parent Under no circumstances should you write, fill in or submit anything for your child’s application. Honestly, if your child can’t complete their own application, they should probably reconsider college (yup, we mean it).

Scare them Avoid bullying your child into getting through the application process. This is a high-stakes time for everyone and it’s better for your student to feel like you’re on their team. Sit down and chat about how your child is feeling about the situation to come up with a plan that works for them.

Dwell on your college days Times have changed. And with the invention of the smartphone, Facebook and Snapchat, chances are your child’s college experience will be very different from yours. Your student is feeling enough pressure to apply to college the right way; they don’t need to try to do it the right way, too.

Be afraid to get involved Chances are your child wants your opinion and input on the process. They’re still a teen and need guidance from you. Just avoid hovering.

So that’s the advice from the younger generation. I hope it helps to make the college application process go smoothly for you and your senior.

 

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