Parents: Helping with the College Process - and Maintaining Your Sanity
Parents can help maintain the peace in the college search process.
By Dr. Kat Cohen
Not to oversimplify the matter, but PEACE is the process during which your child starts the college search and application process. While one may take this aptly-named acronym literally, we have a few more tips that should serve as a guide while navigating your son or daughter through today’s tricky college admissions process.
P for Participate: Be involved in your child’s college admission process, but remind yourself to take the passenger seat. Allow your child to take responsibility. In other words, they should decide which schools they will apply to; encourage them to take initiative in contacting schools and speaking with admissions representatives; and give them the responsibility of filling out their own applications. Of course, you should continue to offer advice and support. But make sure that you’re not forcing your own goals onto them (or, for that matter, completing their applications outright).
E for Educate: Familiarize yourself with the college admissions process. By learning about the general timeline and basic requirements, you will be in better shape to help your child stay organized.
A for Agree: Talk with your child about what you can do to help, and mutually agree on 2-3 tasks that you will take on to assist them. Some helpful ways in which parents have gotten involved include: planning college visits, visiting schools, marking the family calendar with important dates (registration dates for standardized test, deadlines, notification etc.), proofreading applications and essays, and conducting mock interviews.
C for Communicate: As your child begins his or her college search, explain the financial realities of your household and discuss their implications. Also, discuss geographic distinctions, the reality of living away from home, and any restrictions you might have. Share your reasons and concerns, but also listen to what your daughter or son has to say.
Instead of speaking on their behalf, encourage your children to take a more active role in communicating with the adults around them. Not only must students learn to fend for themselves as they get ready to move on to college, but it is also important for them to nurture relationships with their teachers and counselor.
E for Enjoy: There are some real perks to working together on the admissions process, mainly the added opportunity to share valuable time with your child. There is so much to look forward to—college road trips, the mutual brainstorming of essay topics, and newfound academic responsibility.
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