This is a question that so many parents find themselves asking when their child is starting the application process. How involved in the process should I be? How often should I check on their progress without seeming pushy? How can I support them so they feel they have the resources to succeed?
Every family is different, and it’s important to make sure you find a balance of strategies that work for you. Here are some tips and tricks to help parents support their children through the college application season.
Set up recurring check-in meetings instead of inquiring sporadically
I remember when I was applying for college, I would roll my eyes hardest when my mom would shout from the kitchen “have you finished [insert task I had not finished]” without any warning. A better system is to set up an informal meeting, say once every two weeks, where you ask about their progress on their applications. Work with your child to see what amount of work they can get done in those two weeks, and do not check in on their progress before the two weeks are up! This will cut down on fights about nagging, while still allowing for regular updates on progress.
Help them create a check list of their tasks with deadlines before the official deadlines
Writing everything down can be a great way to stay organized, as well as offering the cathartic “check” when you’ve completed an item. Write down the individual components of the application and allocate a deadline for each component to spread out the work. This will help your student stay organized while breaking down the work to cut down on stress. A great example of a checklist can be found in our Digital Toolkit.
Offer your help frequently, but respect their decision on whether or not to accept it
Many parents want to be active in their child’s admissions process, which can work very well for some students. However, some students may feel uncomfortable sharing their essay stories with their parents. Parents can assist in editing college essays, offering their maturity and personal insights, but it’s incredibly important that the work reflects their child’s own thoughts and words. Offering help lets your child know that you’re there for them if they need it, while respecting their decision to accept or decline your help shows them you trust that they can do the work independently. It’s really important to strike a balance between support and trust.