Parents may be watching as your child gets ready to fly the nest, but there’s still more for you to do first!
Provide support without taking over.
It can be hard for parents to let students take the lead during college applications, but it’s crucial. You can – and should – be a cheerleader for your child, you can offer advice and help, but your role is that of an assistant, not a manager. Your child should take the lead, with you staying at the periphery.
Check in to help your child stay on track.
It’s a good idea to schedule regular check-ins, whether it be once a week or once a month. Your child can come to you with issues at any time, but regular check-ins allow you to gauge their mental state, any concerns they have, or any areas where they are falling behind, before it becomes a bigger issue.
Hire a college admissions adviser.
The college admissions process has gotten increasingly more complicated, and different factors change on a regular basis. Hiring a professional adviser can go a long way toward navigating the process, from knowing what extracurricular activities will be most valued by the admissions departments to deciding what a senior year course schedule should include.
Help your child stay organized.
This is an area where you can get very hands-on. Help your child set up physical binders or digital folders for each school they are considering. You can also help set up a system to store any work that can be used in portfolios, any study materials that may come in handy, and the reference letters they collect from teachers, jobs, and volunteer work. Organization is crucial to surviving the admissions process, and if the student can rely on you to handle that end of the business, it can take a lot of weight off of their shoulders.
Proofread essays, film videos, or take photos.
If your student needs to write essays for college applications, pull out a red pen and offer to proofread it for them. If they need to film a video for their film school application, offer to hold the camera. If your child dreams of becoming the next Rodin, take photos of their work to be used in their art portfolio. These visual aids can improve their odds of getting in and are an excellent opportunity to help out and show your support.
Before your student begins sending in college applications, you should sit down as a family and discuss finances. Knowing how much money has been saved in a college fund or how much you can contribute to application fees and, later, tuition will help your student narrow down school options and start considering scholarships, grants, and other financial aid.
Take them to visit colleges – and give them a chance to explore on their own.
Visiting a college is a great way for a potential student to get a feel for the college vibe and decide if they would be happy there. Take your child on college visits so that they can get an up-close look at their dream schools – you may ask questions that they haven’t thought of. The flip-side of this is that you should also allow them some time to explore on their own, talk to students, and potentially even stay in a dorm overnight. Your kid is close to flying the nest – you can’t always be by their side!
College interviews can be very stressful, but a little practice can go a long way. Put on your sternest face and ask them interview questions, then help them clean up their answers. Doing so allows your child to think about what they want to say in advance and can eliminate the chances of stumbling through an unexpected question.
Make sure they relax.
College applications can become all-encompassing, and the stress can really weigh on high school students. While part of your job as a parent is to keep them on track, another part of your job is to ensure they relax and have fun periodically. Plan a family hike, what a movie at home, or just buy your child’s favorite treat and plan a quiet and relaxing night. They will approach the multiple facets of applying much better when they are not overwhelmed.