With early decision results and regular decision application deadlines on the horizon, December can be a stressful time for both students and parents. For those who approach the process strategically, the college application process can be an exciting opportunity for parents to get to know their child better as they set goals and make plans for the next chapter in their lives. That being said, the college admission process can be stressful, so it is essential to create boundaries and effective communication methods in order to maintain a positive relationship amidst application stress.
If your student is assembling their application materials, here are five ways that you can help them get to the finish line and feel confident when they press “submit”:
1. Help Your Student Keep Track of Deadlines.
Some school submission deadlines are fast approaching: for example, the deadline for submission at UC schools is November 30th. Other top schools such as Emory, Columbia, and Princeton require applications to be submitted on or before January 1. To make sure your student is aware of these deadlines and stays on track, you can create an application submission calendar listing your student’s schools and their respective deadlines and application requirements, including supplements, optional videos or portfolios, and interview sign-up deadlines. Then, work backwards with your student and set goals for when they will work on each application. If there are other in-person portions of the application that the student needs to complete, like traveling to visit schools or audition, make sure to plan ahead and incorporate such requirements into your calendar!
2. Set boundaries.
The college application process can feel all-consuming, but it is important for parents to model to their student that there is more to life than the college admissions process. Doing so will help to ease their student’s stress and preserve the parent-child relationship in the midst of the stress. Parents can establish a time of day or day of the week to discuss the college process with their senior. Designating a specific time frame will prevent college applications from becoming the topic of discussion during every car ride, meal, or fun family night. It is important that parents let the student lead the discussion, as this can ease the pressure and allow the student to know what to expect.
3. Ensure Your Student Completes All of their Application Materials.
Parents should encourage their student to start working on the Common Application early and help them to fill out the parent-related portions (particularly those asking questions about financial information, including FAFSA). Additionally, it is important to note that some schools—such as the UC schools, MIT and Georgetown—use their own application systems rather than the Common App, so students should budget for the additional time it takes to compile those applications as well. Finally, parents should check in with their student about their personal statement and supplemental essays.
Parents play a critical role in the final weeks before students submit their applications, both in helping their student compile essential resources for their applications and providing emotional support amidst the stress of the process. By understanding what their student needs to accomplish before the deadlines and taking a proactive approach, parents can offer much-needed guidance to their senior during this critical time! For more information on what you should be doing to support your senior, check out Command Education’s guide to what your student should do before they submit!
Originally published on LinkedIn.