College Competition Season Starts Now! The Parents’ role . . .
by Janis Murray
Many parents’ hopes and dreams are on the line when their firstborn applies to college. Some may see it as a grade on their parenting as in, “If my child doesn’t get into an Ivy or my own Alma Mater, I’ve failed.“ By today’s standards, some of us even doubt WE could get into our own Alma Mater again! Possibly true, but irrelevant. Some counselors may soothe you saying, the process is the sole responsibility of the student. But after spending 18 years of your life doing everything you can for your kid, butting out now is counterintuitive and impossible. No, you cannot write their essays for them. That’s unethical and stifles the unique student voice the college wants to hear. But there is PLENTY else you can do:
1) Discuss the entire process with your student. Ask questions, then listen, listen, listen. Become a TEAM!
2) Learn the CommonApplication.org web site and its “Dashboard”. Parents can fill out the “name, rank & serial number” sections and even help with the activities lists. Facilitating this, eases the student’s workload so they can concentrate on the more important essays. But, never go into a student’s Common Application and change anything online without their knowledge. This will violate trust you may not get back. It’s THEIR domain.
3) Keep track of deadlines and plan college visits.
4) Write a letter to your child’s college counselor describing his or her strengths, personality, family experiences and potential in positive ways in cogent sentences offering a glimpse of who that student might be in college. Spend several hours on this because it’s very important. That counselor is going to write your student’s recommendation to the colleges and you will never see it. So put your important “two cents” in early, like NOW. That counselor, with many students to write about, will certainly welcome your thoughts. Just don’t go over the top about how perfect your child is. That will minimize the “copy and paste” potential you want, and nobody will believe it anyway.
5) Outsource for help from a professional when needed. This is an especially useful option for dual career couples with multiple children. A trusted, experienced facilitator can offer that third objective eye, and nurture motivation that creates results. Ask friends for referrals. A quality professional should welcome all your questions, and should never guarantee acceptance to any college.
Stay calm. Be cool. Go!
Copyright 2016 by Janis Murray
All rights reserved.