The college search and admission process is a life-changing event for your child, and often for the whole family. The beginning of the college search signals the beginning of a child’s transition from teenager to young adult. As a result, it can be difficult for parents to strike the right balance of helping their child without taking over. Here are some tips for parents entering the world of college admission.
Learn About the Process
Even if you have vivid memories of your own college decisions, realize that the college admission process has changed since you attended. Whether or not you attended college, invest some time in learning about today’s college admission process. Ask your child’s counselor to recommend helpful resources or contact the UACCH Office of Admissions.
Discuss Restrictions Up Front
If there are financial restrictions that limit the range of colleges your child can consider, discuss them with your child at the beginning of the college search. Then your child won’t waste time and energy researching colleges that she won’t be able to attend. Just remember, your child CAN afford to go to college and UACCH has many financial aid and scholarship opportunities available to them.
Remind Your Child of Deadlines
The life of a high school student is often very busy, and teenagers are still learning time management skills. So help your child begin keeping a calendar or day planner to keep track of all those college application and scholarship deadlines (as well as his/her school work and activities).
Listen and Offer Advice
For many students, their choice of college is their first adult decision and it can be difficult. Likewise, it can be difficult for parents to find the right balance of guiding their child without making decisions for him/her. Parents should be aware of what is going on, should make sure that deadlines are not missed and the proper tests are taken, and should be available when the student wants advice. Try to act as a sounding board for your child: ask good questions and let your child supply the answers. Remember, UACCH counselors are always available to help if you need extra assistance.
Don’t Make Decisions for Your Child
Your child needs to choose a college based on his individual abilities, interests and personality. Beware of pressuring your child to apply to the college(s) you would like him/her to attend. Encourage your child to apply to a good and realistic range of schools. Your child must decide for himself which colleges to apply to and which college to attend. After all, your child will be the one who spends several years living and learning at college.
Be Your Child’s Cheerleader
The college admission process can be stressful. Your child may feel uncertain about the decisions he/she must make, fearful of rejection from colleges, or anxious about meeting deadlines for both college applications and his/her school work. Over the course of the search process, your child may change his/her mind (more than once) about her career aspirations, academic goals, or what she wants in a college. All of this is normal. Parents can help their college-bound child by offering plenty of encouragement, a listening ear, and gentle guidance. And don’t forget to celebrate each step along your child’s journey from high school to college.