How Parents Can Help as College Admission Deadlines Approach

by Ashley Eneriz

The new year reminds all students that college admission deadlines are fast approaching. While the application process can be a time-consuming and stressful task for students, it’s also a great opportunity for parents and students to bond as they work through the application together.

The Parents’ Role in College Applications

Showing you care for your child’s future while still allowing him or her to be in charge of making decisions can be a difficult line to walk. How much should a parent be involved in the college application process? You can help your student the most by keeping colleges and paperwork organized, as well as making sure no vital college admission deadlines are missed.

Parents can also assist their students by looking over applications and essays for glaring grammatical errors or for missed opportunities to mention something notable—i.e., the summer he volunteered overseas. However, it is essential that your student fill out the application and essay by themselves to maintain his or her authentic tone.

What to Do Before Filling Out Applications

Before sitting down to tackle college applications, help your student gather necessary grades and test scores. There might still be time to retake the SAT or ACT so your child can report a better score, but know that these testing times and score release dates might conflict with your college admission deadlines.

Help your student brainstorm a list of his or her accomplishments, extracurricular activities, and awards won. If students have a list of achievements in front of them, they are less likely to forget an important detail on their application.

Encourage your student to research one or two safety schools, ensuring that the application requirements and college admission deadlines for each school are realized and recorded.

How to Help During the Application Process

During the application process, parents can support their students by helping them create a master task list to stay on track. With a checklist for each school, include due dates; hang one calendar in the kitchen or in another common area, and share a calendar on your phone or through email with your child so nothing falls through the cracks. Remember, students need motivation and support during this time, but refrain from nagging. It is ultimately their life and their decision when and how they apply to college.

How to Support Your Student After Applications Are In

First thing’s first—celebrate! Treat your student to a special dinner or dessert and let them know how proud you are that all of the stressful applications are completed.

Then comes the hard part—waiting. Keeping a positive attitude through the waiting period and when the decision letters come in is essential. For rejection letters, it is best to encourage students to look at this “no” as an opportunity rather than a rejection. Remind them that they can always apply as a transfer student after a year or two year of college, which can be less competitive than freshmen applications.

For acceptance letters, it is imperative to respond quickly, especially if more than one school has accepted your student. If your student is accepted to more than one school, help weigh the pros and cons of each college before making a final decision.

College applications are a stressful time for students, especially when they are already buried deep in high school senior activities. While you can’t complete the applications for them, you can support and motivate them during the college admissions process.