As parents, we worry about being too involved or not involved enough in the lives of our children. If we baby them, they won’t be able to make it as adults. If we don’t, they won’t be able to make it as children. Here are a few tips for parents as their students embark on the college admissions journey.
1. Talk about money early in the process.
It is important to talk to your student about what your family can afford to pay for college. (Remember: the price tag of a college is very rarely the actual cost.) Don’t wait until they have been admitted to their dream school! Denying an academic opportunity goes against every parental instinct, but it is always better to be honest about what your family can afford early in the process.
2. It is okay to say “enough” to some academic/extracurricular opportunities.
Students are not required to participate in every enrichment program or activity in order to lead successful, fulfilling lives. It is okay to spend down time with the family, go to the pool with friends, or visit grandparents for a couple of weeks over the summer. Having a weeknight off during the school year should be encouraged. They need us to say “enough” and encourage balance. It will not keep them from future success.
3. Let them take the lead.
It is remarkable what teenagers are capable of when left to their own devices. I mean capable in a good way! They can sign up for campus visits, ask their own questions, request their own transcripts, and write their own essays. It will be okay. You can trust them. They are supposed to sound, look, and act like 17-year-old-kids.
4. Utilize the resources available in your community—Independent Educational Consultants, School Counselors, and Admissions Officers.
There are professionals who are eager and willing to help your family through the college admissions process. School Counselors can be overwhelmed with other responsibilities, but that doesn’t mean they don’t know their stuff. They are great resources right in the high schools. Admissions Officers at colleges love to have the opportunity to talk about college planning—a welcome break from only talking about their particular school. Independent Educational Consultants provide personalized college planning services for families throughout the process and are not just for the wealthy. Look for those who are Certified Educational Planners with college admissions experience and membership in professional organizations.
5. Give yourself a break.
My parents didn’t know my grades until report cards came home. They never made late night trips to Michael’s to get the supplies for a school assignment, stayed up until the wee hours putting my model of the solar system together, or filled out applications for me. They were there when I failed and when I succeeded and let me take the blame or credit for both. Your parents were probably the same. You don’t have to do it all for your children. They will be alright.