What should parents be doing (or not doing) to help their high school students navigate the college application process?
Sometimes it is hard to balance providing guidance for students and doing too much. The college application process is, to some degree, designed to weed out students who are not ready ready to attend college. If your student requires a great deal of assistance from you to complete an application or scholarship form, chances are he or she is not a good match for that school or program. Given that more than 40% of college freshmen nationwide do not end up graduating, too much work by parents on the front end may be contributing to this problem.
What to do?
- Be a sounding board for your student as he or she ponders what school might be a good match
- Accompany your student on college visits
- Proofread essays for mistakes and for clarity, without doing any of the actual writing
- Answer questions as needed on applications. This may include demographic, residency and educational information about you.
- Provide information (including tax information) for the FAFSA and complete the parent section.
- Electronically sign the FAFSA.
- Being in the driver's seat! Step away from the computer and let your student complete all applications.
- Creating accounts for your student, including College Board. This creates confusion when the student needs to log in and send scores (which the student should be the one to do!). Students also sometimes end up with multiple accounts.
- Choosing your student's college major. Feel free to make suggestions and review career assessments with your student.
"Rejections hurt. Here's how to help your child during college-acceptance season." (from The Washington Post)
College Planning Timeline
College Planning Terminology