During the college admissions process, the parent’s role begins to shift from decision-maker to decision-supporter. Below are some tips, which might make the
parental role in the process easier and more comfortable. Parents need to be responsible for:
- Providing encouragement and support: The choice of a college and career is clearly the most stressful part of high school for many high school students. All of the decisions, which need to be accomplished, can be overwhelming, confusing, and even frightening to both parent and child. Students need all the encouragement and support parents can muster.
- Helping your student meet deadlines: Gentle (and some not-so-gentle) reminders from parent and counselor will be needed if each senior is going to meet application deadlines. Remember, it is not the adults’ responsibility to meet the deadline; it is the student’s responsibility. Every nudge will be much appreciated though!
- Determining your ability to pay for college: The parent’s primary responsibility is to determine a plan to pay for college. Filling out the required
financial aid forms is a parental task. Since students have a vested interest, they should become acquainted with the process of paying for college. Paying for college is a hefty investment. Near the beginning of the college search process, discuss with your student what you can afford and the financial parameters that are in place. This will help your student target appropriate college choices. Reminder: students are not permitted to file as “independent” until the age of 24. Use the Net Price Calculators in the financial aid area of every college web site to help determine the cost of that specific school.
- Accompanying your student on the preliminary visit to college: Parents are encouraged to accompany their student for the initial campus visit. Parents have a vested interest in this process. It is your right to carefully study this investment. While your student is meeting with an admission
officer, why not go down to the Office of Financial Aid to familiarize yourself with their deadlines, programs and payment plans? As you tour the college or university, ask yourself one question: Can I see my child fitting in here?
Why or why not? And try to remember: this could be your child’s college home. Keep the needs and personality of your student in mind.
- Contacting the school counselor for additional information: Call or email your student’s counselor at any point for a quick question, clarification of a procedure, or for an appointment to discuss things further. Please don’t wait for your student’s counselor to contact you.
- Allowing your child to grow to independence: This is the hardest part of the parenting job at this point in time: helping your child to help himself/herself. This requires a great deal of patience. The first steps toward independence can be shaky, faltering, and even threatening. Parents become less the authority figure and more the decision supporter, less the rule-giver and more the mentor. Your child will need to learn to be without you when he/she enters school. Making senior year a trial run at self management will help your child - and you through this transition!