It comes as no surprise that high school students (not to mention their parents) feel the pressure when it comes to applying to colleges, due in part to workforce demands and messages they hear about expectations surrounding college admissions. Students strive for strong academics and high ACT/SAT scores, plus other characteristics that set them apart from their peers (e.g., community involvement, sports, music, clubs, etc.). In short, applying to colleges has never been more nerve wracking. For students, the stress of expectations can be overwhelming. For parents, helping teens succeed in today’s college climate can be difficult terrain to traverse. So, parents, here’s a guide to help you help your children find their way.
Guide, don’t push
Give your child agency while making college decisions. This is likely one of the most important life decisions your child has encountered to date. For that reason alone, allowing your child to approach their future independently is key for personal development.
At the same time, the college application process can be daunting for your child. In times of stress, it’s important to help ground your child. Many applicants feel overwhelmed by the mere fact that the entirety of their educational and extracurricular careers can be measured in a single application. Ensure your child knows that while it is important to create the best application they can, admission does not define their accomplishments. Lending your child support can ease the stress of college application season and better their chances at building a quality case for admission.
Help your child stay organized
Arguably the most important factor in creating a quality application is time management. Helping your child manage application tasks accordingly can mean the difference between a last minute, error-filled essay and a carefully edited, clear essay that leads to admittance. Following up with your child on deadlines and suggesting timelines can help them greatly when applying to multiple schools.
Your input is appreciated
You may experience pushback while attempting to help your child with application tasks. Often times this is a projection of stress or an attempt to protect their individuality. However, know that your input does help your child in the long run, and does not go unnoticed. Parents prove vital in helping their children set realistic goals and expectations, as well as weigh different characteristics (e.g., rural vs. urban, 40,000 vs. 4,000 students, private vs. public, etc.). Without the help of parents, many children would not be able to succeed in college admissions and beyond.
Another important step to take with your college hopeful is scheduling college visits. If you’re interested in attending an affordable university that puts your child first, the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (WAICU) has you covered. Schedule a visit at one (or several!) of our colleges during Private College Week (July 8 – 13, 2019) and contribute to your child’s success.