Q. How can I help my kid manage the stress of the application process?
A. Know Your Timetables....
It's my experience that high school kids have alot on their plate already as they enter junior year with a schedule filled with AP and IB classes. Then there are the added responsibilities of SAT/ACT review classes and testing, college visiting, college list development, requesting recommendations, developing resumes and increasing their involvement; all add up to a very stressful time.
Seniors are then confronted with the application completion and filing process, essay writing, interviewing, additional visiting with overnights, a tougher schedule than junior year and perhaps more testing.
Parents can help them manage stress by knowing what the timetable is for the entire college admission and financial aid process. Gentle reminders can then help their college-bound son or daughter stay paced and meet deadlines.
I would suggest having a conversation at the end of sophomore year about the upcoming junior and senior years outlining the timetable and coming to an agreement about what part of this process you, as a parent, could handle to relieve their stress. You may need to revisit these details as you move along, but laying the foundation early can help avoid stress during the application process.
Q. Are guidebooks, relatives, and rankings useful in choosing a school?
A. You’ll Need To Make Up Your Own Mind
I always discuss with my families the importance of "being on the ground." By that I mean, visiting the college when students are there so get a real feel for the campus and the students who attend there.
Researching colleges by reading guidebooks, speaking with relatives and reviewing rankings have all become part of the landscape of the college review process. It is important to remember that even though "Uncle Joe" had the time of his life at Fun Time University, doesn't mean your expectations of a college experience match his.
So where should the college search begin....with you, of course!
Q. How can parents help students with the application process?
A. Students Need To Make The Decision
Although students need to be in the "drivers seat" during the college selection process, parents are a part of the team! Since there are so many changes occuring to the college admissions and financial climate, it is impossible for a student to keep up with all of the information flooding them. Parents can help by keeping abreast and identifying reliable sources of information.
Parents have an important role in helping to arrange college visits, exploring career center and support resources at colleges during visiting and reducing student stress by removing obstacles and unneeded worry about test prep, SAT/ACT testing costs and application fees.
Open communication, dialogue and patience are essential now, and parents need to resolve their own anxieties about the college decision before they can provide the best support!