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How Parents Can Help Their Kids with College Applications…

Here are some guidelines for parents who want to assist their kids in the college app process:

The media have recently highlighted “helicopter parents” who seize control of the college application process from their kids. They fill out their college applications, sit in on college interviews, and attend college events designed only for prospective students. However, the Harvard Family Research Project reports that teenagers whose parents play an active role in their education do better in school and are more likely to enroll in college. The College Board and the Art & Science Group reveal that approximately 30% of college-bound seniors wished their parents were more involved in the college application process. How can parents assist their children in the application process without taking it over? Guidelines for doing so follow.

The Right Way to Help Your Child in the College Application Process

(1) Do an Honest Self-Appraisal of Your Ability to Assist Your Child, and How You Can Do So

If you went to college ask whether your experiences are still applicable, and for what types of schools? What did you do well and poorly in the application process and in college? Consider hiring a private independent counseling service, such as Top Test Prep, with up to date information on the application process and the perspective that non-family members bring to the process.

(2) Serve as a Coach and Facilitator to Your Child in the Application Process

Don’t dictate your child’s college application strategy or adopt roles your child should be playing such as writing college essays. You are an advisor and sounding board for your child as they move through the process. Remember that it is an opportunity for them to become more independent and be resourceful in seeking information.

(3) Supplement Your Child’s Initiatives on College Applications

It is appropriate to help your child in organizing application material, researching colleges and financial aid, and editing their essays for grammar and sentence structure. Offer to take them on trips to college then step aside as they talk to students and staff while getting a feel for the campus.

(4) Offer Your Child Emotional and Moral Support During the Process

This is where you put on your conventional parent’s hat. Anxieties, frustration, and disappointment are a natural part of the application process. Be on the lookout for signs of these emotions by your child. Emphasize that you will always be there for them, regardless of the outcome of the process. They will perform better as a result.

Conclusion

As an educator for more than a generation and the father of a college student I have seen the full gamut of behavior by the parents of college bound students. You can help your child during this process by assuming an active, but supporting role. It will not only enhance their chances of succeeding, but contribute to the establishment of a foundation for a healthy adult relationship.

David Dickson is a college counselor at Top Test Prep which offers tutoring and test preparation with admissions experts who help you gain admission to your top schools. For more information on college counseling call (800) 501-Prep.