By Vera Marie Reed
Special to the Washington Family Engagement Trust
What role do parents play in the college admissions process? This is a question many parents of soon to be graduated high school students should be asking. Get involved too much and you can ruin the experience. Not being involved enough could mean no acceptance letters.
In 2013, the pay gap between college graduates and those with some or no advanced education reached an all-time high. Research found thatcollege grads earned 98 percent more than those without a degree, according to Labor Department statistics.
College and advanced education has becomea vital asset in the economy. “We have too few college graduates,” David Autor, an MIT economist told the New York Times. “We also have too few people who are prepared for college.”
Let’s take a closer look at how parents can be truly effective in the college admissions process.
1. Hijacking Your Student’s College Admissions Journey is Poor Parenting
One of the most important tips for parents is that the college admissions process is not about them. It is certainly an exciting time for you and your blossoming student. And this makes it easy for parents to get too involved. However this can causeanxiety in your student, according to The New York Times.
“Remember that your child is going to college, not you. Admissions offices prefer contact from the student and not the parent,” Former Senior Admissions Officer from University of Chicago, Sally Ganga, suggests. “While you can help by scheduling the basic stuff, like visits, any substantive contact with an admissions officer must come from your child.”
The overall goal is to find the best college fit for your student. In doing so, you will play a role of support. Offering advice and your thoughts are excellent, but try not to stare your student in the direction you would choose. The college admissions choice needs to be theirs.
2. Encourage Your Student to Complete the College Admissions Application Solo
When it comes to the college admissions application, let your student take the lead. It may be challenging for you as a parent to not hover over every line. However, hovering will add stress to the experience and college admissions process.
Talk to your student about the application. Set a schedule for when it needs to be done. And mostcertainly make yourself available for any pressing questions, as well as a proofread or two, according to College Raptor.
“Have your student do a mock run through of the common application in junior year so that she knows what to expect, said Former Senior Admissions Officer from Barnard College, Kara Courtois. “You can print out a PDF version for practice and discuss it.”
3. Parents Teach Confidence by Letting Students Write Their College Admissions Essay
Where to draw the line when it comes to parents and college admissions is simply a matter of support. And supporting your students is essential to their professional career and achieving their personal goals. Don’t start them off on the wrong foot by helping them write their college admissions essay.
Senior advisor and writer for College Confidential, Sally Rubenstone, saidcollege admissions officers can tell if the student applicant writes an essay by simply comparing it to the student’s ACT or SAT writing score. Build their confidence and let them get those acceptance letters solely from their exceptional effort.
4. Keep College Admissions within the Family College Budget
It is always a proud moment for parents of students who want to apply to Harvard, or another prestigious university. However, if your family college budget isn’t in reach of Harvard, it’s best to put all the cards on the table prior to the college admissions process.
Visiting a lot of colleges and understanding your financial commitment as a parent is essential. Discuss with your student what you can really afford. Keeping focus on what colleges is in that range.
Disappointment will certainly follow your student’s acceptance into Harvard if you can’t afford it. Needsome parenting leverage? Many graduates are paying their parents back for college support, according to Forbes.
It has become more important than ever for students to obtain a level of higher education. There are new fields in technology opening up, and some ofthe fastest growing careers in the U.S. require a four year degree or higher. Being a parent who supports their student’s college admissions process in a positive way will certainly build on future success.
Vera Marie Reed is freelance writer living in Glendale, California. This mother of two specializes in education and parenting content. When she’s not delivering expert advice, you can find her reading, writing, arts, going to museums and doing craft projects with her children.