Parents: College Planning is About You Too

The college application process is stressful for not only students but for parents too. As a parent, there are likely a myriad of questions running through your head at any given moment during the entirety of the college application process. How involved should parents be in the process of creating a list? How much input should parents give when students are filling out the applications or writing their essays? Should parents help students make their final decision on which school to attend? While it may be frustrating, the answer is “it depends.”

There is no right or wrong way to help your student through the college application process. Some students prefer parents to be more hands-on whereas others thrive when given the space to explore independently receiving support on an as-needed basis. That said, here are a few universal tips on how to help your student and understand your role in the college process:

  1. Open communication to create a plan. It is important that your child knows that you are there to support them throughout the process. Ask them about what they need and help them co-create a plan to help them prioritize aspects of college life during their list creation, meet application deadlines, and ultimately choose that right fit institution.
  2. Be upfront about cost and other non-negotiables. Worried that your daughter loves the West Coast? Want your son to be sure to consider the UK? Concerned about the rising cost of college? Having honest conversations at the start about what your student should be aware of, especially in terms of cost and what that means for their applications, is critical for a robust and successful search process. If a student has an idea of what to expect, they can make smart cost-conscious decisions such as applying to schools with strong merit aid programs or applying to strong local options.
  3. Seek advice from trusted advisors. The college application process is constantly changing. With the increased focus on essays, the test optional movement, and more, it is hard to know the ins and outs of the entirety of the process to help your student each step of the way. One of the largest causes of parental stress that we see in our offices is trying to navigate the mass of rumors out there on the internet, at neighborhood BBQs, and in the pick-up line. Seeking advice from experts gives you solid information that you can trust, which you can use to guide your student.

Here, at PrepMatters, we know just how stressful the college application process is and are here to serve as a trusted advisor for you and your student. We see countless families contact us late in the game only to realize that they have made things much harder for themselves and their children than they needed to.  Now is the time—reach out and let us talk about how we can help.

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