College-bound students should always drive the college search process, but there’s no stopping parents from mixing in. Some take a back seat, others the front, and a few grab the wheel and steer the entire process. Helpful or obnoxious, we’re all invested in our children’s futures and determined that they make a positive decision when it comes to higher education. Sometimes our kids take our suggestions; and other times they go running in the opposite direction. Regardless, college search and seizure is a family process. And this experience isn’t without it’s hair pulling moments, so here are some tips to preserve your sanity on the college-bound journey.
1. Never focus on one school as the “perfect” school. There are many great colleges. Focusing on only one place can be risky and dangerous for the applicant’s self-esteem and academic options. Encourage your student to explore and consider several great schools where he/she would be a competitive candidate.
2. Read. Read. Read. But bring in a magnifying glass if you want to read the college financial information. That font’s about the same size as the fine print on the Tylenol bottle —which you’ll need for the financial headache you’ll be acquiring.
3. Take a college tour in your bathrobe. Visit school websites and then tour with College Prowler. You won’t embarrass your teens or fight with them. And you’ll get a teen perspective without the eye rolling.
4. Parents and students can meet college experts online or via social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Search for school and expert fan pages on Facebook. Follow schools and experts on Twitter and join Twitter chat parties. (Look for #hashtags related to college topics) Join LinkedIn groups related to college, admissions, and parenting teens.
5. Do not write your child’s essay. It’s unethical and a ticket to rejection. Parents don’t write like teens. Admissions professionals can spot a parent essay from across the room. Proofread only, but only if you have the skill. If you never got that “i before e” thing, have your teen find a proofreading surrogate.
Her newest book, “College Bound and Gagged” – a great companion for the anxious parent, can be ordered on Amazon.