As Peak College Consulting embarks on another year of the college application process for our juniors, it's worth noting that this cycle brings new students and new parents into the fold. Guiding parents through this journey is as vital as assisting the students.
First and foremost, it's essential to recognize that the college application process is a stepping stone to college life. Students must employ skills like critical thinking, decision-making, organization, and planning throughout this journey. While parents can be a supportive presence, it's paramount to allow the students to take the lead. However, there are ways parents can assist without overshadowing their child's involvement.
Quality Time: The junior year can be a bittersweet period for parents, as it marks the last stretch before their children leave for college. Instead of lamenting the imminent "empty nest," consider how to make the most of this pivotal year by connecting with your teenager. College planning can provide invaluable bonding moments. College visits, heartfelt discussions about aspirations, and open conversations about desires are some of the benefits. As a parent, you'll likely be organizing and scheduling college tours, so strive to incorporate enjoyable activities into these trips to make them memorable. Remember, college visits can become repetitive and dull for students, so infuse some excitement into the process. Plan ahead to avoid stress – communicate the schedule with your child, ensure you're punctual for appointments, and make the experience as smooth as possible. Light-heartedness and flexibility can go a long way. Approach these campus visits with a sense of adventure, turning them into enjoyable experiences. Fun times with your teenager are precious.
Empathy: It's essential to understand your child's emotions during this time. Regardless of their academic standing, students often grapple with feelings of insecurity, uncertainty, and anxiety about their college prospects. If your child seems disengaged or disinterested, it may stem from anxiety about the unknown rather than a lack of enthusiasm. Overwhelming excitement on the part of parents can be off-putting for teenagers. Tune into your child's emotional state before expressing your own enthusiasm.
Realistic Expectations: While students understand the importance of maintaining their GPA, choosing courses, and achieving standardized test scores, they may not always have a realistic view of their competitiveness. Many students with good grades set their sights on elite schools without understanding their chances. Parents can play a valuable role here by reminding students that just because they fit into the averages of accepted students, there are no guarantees. This is often difficult for both students and parents to accept. As experts in the field, we have seen it all. Look at the percentages when creating a balanced list. Any acceptance with a 30% or lower is a lottery school. Use simple math. If a school has 20% acceptance, only 20 students out of 100 will get accepted. This number includes recruited athletes, musicians, and legacy students. We do not know the institutional priorities for each school, so prepare your child. While encouraging dreams is essential, it's equally crucial to be realistic about academic and financial constraints. Honesty and open communication can prevent disappointment and tension later on.
Stay Informed: Knowing your child's academic progress, strengths, weaknesses, learning preferences, and aspirations is essential. These insights will guide you and your student in creating a well-informed college list. Additionally, keeping track of the requirements for each college application and staying updated on trends in college admissions is indispensable.
Your role as a parent is pivotal during the college application process. As your child evolves into the adult they are destined to become, remember that they still need your guidance, support, and love more than ever. This is an exciting and challenging time, but with the right approach, parents and students can make the most of the experience.