September 26, 2019
Reading Time: 7 minutes –
Parents, are you facing these challenge? If so, this is FOR YOU!
Speaking as someone who just went through the college application process, I can assure you it is just as stressful as it is made out to be – on both the student and the parent. I was fortunate enough to have an incredible experience with my parents when I was applying to college. Even though I was the first in my family to apply to college, my parents still managed to strike a perfect balance of guiding me when necessary but also ensuring that the process was entirely my own. I am now writing this for all the parents struggling to find that balance, with the hope that you too can be your child’s greatest cheerleader during this otherwise very stressful process.
As early as a student’s freshman year of high school, they should start visiting college campuses. Frame it as an opportunity to go on little vacations! It is very likely that the student will find at least one campus that speaks to them on these visits. Though it is important to recognize their passions for a particular school(s), as a parent, it will be on you to keep your child grounded and not overly attached to a school that may not become a reality. A parent should be as pragmatic and rational as possible. On the flip side, you should also recognize that there is no sense in forcing a school on a student if they hate it, just because that school has a really good XYZ program or it is ranked #whatever in ABC. There is no success to be found in forcing your child down a particular path!
This goes hand in hand with being pragmatic. More often than not students want different college experiences for themselves than their parents have envisioned. Communicate what you are hoping as just that – YOUR desire as a parent – NOT a hard expectation that is a non-negotiable. Be candid about what kinds of colleges you would like to see your child reaching for, where you would be comfortable with your child going to school, what major you might think your child has a passion for, and what you think your child might be able to do in order to beef up their profile. However, at the end of the day, it is your child’s college journey and future, not yours.
The aforementioned openness should always apply to finances as well. Though brutal honesty when it comes to money may be discouraging, knowing full well the financial reality is critical to empowering your child and encouraging them to find funding that exists. For instance, they can apply to a bunch of outside scholarships, using sites like:
It is also important to remember that getting into a dream school that may be too expensive is also not the end of the world. There are always more scholarships, loans, and outside grants that exist and are often not tapped into. Part of adulthood is being financially independent, and it is important to ease your child into this early on by having open conversations about what you can contribute financially to their college education. But do this sooner rather than later, and do not discourage your child from applying to certain schools simply because they are out of your price range. It never hurts to try. After all, I was in that same exact position, and was able to find funding that has not only covered my hefty private university tuition but also provided me with a living stipend!
Just because one door has closed doesn’t mean there aren’t millions of other open doors, leading to even brighter pathways. Be a teammate and support your child when things do not go exactly as planned. Get inventive! Create a new path! Help your child take stock of their skills, passions, and talents, and then use that to formulate a plan of action. Trade schools, community colleges, and gap years are all perfectly reasonable options that may be more beneficial in the long run. Then when they are ready, they can re-apply with a stronger, more confident application, knowing such things like high school GPA or SATs are not as important.
There are so many resources out there. There are a myriad of articles about college to read up on, but I caution you to use that knowledge sparingly. Encourage your student to meet with college counselors (if your child’s school offers them, great! If not, Write Track Admissions can help). During the meetings with the counselor or your child’s Admissions Expert, ask clarifying questions, or comment if your child has glanced over something major. However, allow your child to direct the process. This ensures that the student’s application process is their own, and hopefully will encourage them to apply to schools because they can legitimately see a future for themselves at that institution. Parents have told Write Track Admissions, time and again, that a balanced process brought them closer to their child than ever before. Utilizing the assistance of a college admissions consultant, they were able to defer to the Admissions Expert to work with the student on technicalities, while still functioning as a support structure when the inevitable self-doubt and stress arose in their child.
We hope this helps provide you with some options. But if you’re still feeling lost, please feel free to contact Write Track for help and guidance!
Aly Hartman | Write Track Communications Officer