Parents, this is a good moment for me to discuss where you come in. It is totally understandable that work and family may leave you with little time to assist your children who are applying with all of this paperwork, but any assistance counts, even your presence alone. Many high schools PTAs, including mine, hold a meeting every spring to discuss the college application process. All parents and their children are invited, and covers a lot of good bases. If you cannot attend the meeting, contact a PTA representative and they will likely be able to send you the PowerPoint slides or notes used in the meeting. This forms the basis of a good checklist.
Many schools also schedule meetings in the spring for juniors applying the following year, their guidance counselors, and their parents. This is likely the only time that an applicant, guardians, and guidance counselor will be in the same room at the same time. Use this time! Taking even an hour off of work to attend it is well worth it. This can help parents and guardians familiarize themselves with deadlines their children need to meet. In addition, meeting an applicant’s parents is another aspect of how the guidance counselor can get to know the student better, providing personal insight that could be useful in writing a strong recommendation.
Parents, your presence and support can also be extremely helpful to your child in getting through a stressful time. While entering college requires independence—see my prior post on moving into campus—the work it takes to get to the gate requires many loving shoulders to lean on. Discuss with your children their ideas for application essays and hold mock interviews with them. If you or anyone else in your family went to college, share those experiences with your child; they could learn something from you that will make them a more informed, and more competitive, applicant.
Going back to applicants, another key component of the application is the section on extracurricular activities. Prior to beginning the application, each student should compile a list of all the activities they participated in, the number of hours spent on each, as well as leadership roles and awards won. It may seem unnecessary to make a separate document just for this, but it is extremely helpful. I recommend an Excel spreadsheet. We often forget to keep track of clubs and organizations through the high school years, and organizing them also makes it easier to think about which mean the most to you, and you can allocate emphasis on each accordingly in the application.
That’s it for this series of post; I hope it was helpful! Readers, remember to leave comments with your thoughts or questions for me and I’ll be sure to answer them.