Applying to college can be stressful--but not just for students. Parents often feel the pressure of the college process, but there are ways to be involved while not being overbearing. Here are 5 tips that can help you, help your child make the most of the college search and application process.
1) Be a strong support person, sounding board, and cheerleader...but allow your child to take ownership of the college process. Let them take the driver's seat as they will be the one going to college.
TIP: Often I tell families to set up one night a week for a "college night". Order in pizza and the student can update you on his/her progress and you can check-in and ask any questions you might have. This way, you won't be "pestering" your child everyday for an update.
2) Have conversations about the college process early, including what you and your child's expectations are for the process and possible colleges of interest. This includes discussing any limitations--e.g. financial, geographic, etc. Parents need to be realistic about their expectations and encourage your student to do the same.
3) Help setup campus visits and accompany your student; however, make sure that it is the student who is asking/answering any questions.
4) Proofread applications and essays; however, resist the urge to over-edit or change these as the student's voice must shine through. A parent should NEVER write or re-write an essay, nor should they fill out applications for their student!
5) Gather and organize financial documents so that when the time comes to submit the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) the student will have everything they need.
TIP: A great place for parents, along with their student, to visit is the FAFSA website's FAFSA4Caster https://fafsa.ed.gov/FAFSA/app/f4cForm?execution=e1s1. You'll answer some quick questions about your income and assets and it will provide you with an estimate of what you will likely be asked to pay towards your child's college education.