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Involve Your Parents in the College Planning Process

Involve Your Parents in the College Planning Process

Find out how to involve your parents in the college planning process.

By Ursula Furi-Perry

March 10, 2009

Still other parents may be prevented by economic reasons and hectic work schedules from taking time off to help you with your college planning. Rodriguez acknowledges that what initially seemed like disinterest from her parents was actually attributable to their jobs. “That’s a big factor that I didn’t realize, and thought they just didn’t care,” Rodriguez says. “Sometimes they want to be involved but can’t because of their difficult schedules.”

  • Students: Ask about, and take advantage of, college Q&A sessions for new students and parents.

  • Parents: If you see an opportunity in the college-planning process to make it more accessible to parents, share your ideas with high school or college staff.
  • Parents: If you see an opportunity in the college-planning process to make it more accessible to parents, share your ideas with high school or college staff.

Vela says colleges and universities aren’t necessarily making things easier for parents of multicultural students. For example, Vela would like to see colleges present materials in dual languages and have question-and-answer sessions for parents of multicultural students.

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“If the school’s showing that effort, then parents are able to more freely ask questions and feel like they can get involved,” Vela says. “Parents sometimes need to speak to other parents and form support groups. They may be able to find out about some amazing opportunities.”

  • Students: Share your college experience with your parents before they ask.

  • Parents: Show interest in your student’s postsecondary adventures.
  • Rodriguez says something as simple as parents talking to their kids in college can help both the parents and students feel more involved. “Ask your kids what they’re doing,” Rodriguez advises parents. That helps students “realize that school is important to [you].”

    Rodriguez says she makes a point to call her parents about upcoming activities in which she’s involved. “If I’m having an event, I tell them and try to bring them in a little bit,” she says. “They came once and really liked it, so they’re getting more involved with the [collegiate] community.” She also shows her parents around her school and asks them to participate when possible. She recently enlisted her mother to cook for a Latino cultural event that she’s organizing.

    Vela recalls trying to get into a magnet program in high school. He and his mother both attended a conference with school authorities. “My mom’s educational level wasn’t the highest, and her English wasn’t the greatest, but together we were able to have that conversation with the principal,” Vela says.

    Because he stepped up and got his mother involved, Vela was accepted to the program and went on to college. “I think sometimes you almost have to take the lead in certain conversations, but still need to involve your parents,” Vela says.

    Both students and parents benefit when Mom and Dad are involved in the college-planning process. “It takes an effort on both sides,” says Rodriguez. “But once you get it going, the results are good.”

    This article reprinted with permission from NextStep Magazine.

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