7 Ways to Support Your Child During the College Application Process

How to support your child during the college application process

There’s a fine line between being overbearing and being just supportive enough to let your child thrive during the college application process.

Knowing when to let go and when to hold on can be hard. But when it comes to our children, we never really let go, do we?

Many parents find it difficult to maintain a balance between providing the right amount of support during college applications and being too involved.

Because of this, I often see parents and children getting burnt out by the college application process.

In some cases, well-meaning parents might inadvertently hinder their child’s odds of getting into the school of their dreams.

When we can support our children through the college application and admissions process, but still allow them to take control and thrive, that’s when families really win.

With the right plan in place, you can help your child in a way that works for both of you!

That’s why I wrote this article.

Here are seven ways parents can support their children during the college application process.

1. Ask your child how you can help.

Some students prefer their parents to be more involved in the college application process.

Some students prefer their parents to be more involved in the college application process.

The best way to figure out how to help your child starts with asking them how, and how much help they want in the first place!

Ask them about specific tasks you can help with and what the best way to make them feel supported would be.

But remember, this process is as new for your child as it is for you. It will be a “learn as you go” type scenario, and your role may change over time.

2. Remember this is their first significant step toward independence.

Your child may have a job, a driver’s license, and other important responsibilities, but the college application process is a major step in your child’s independence.

For many students, this is their first big step in that direction!

This is a great time for your child to gain confidence in their ability to do important things.

You can be there for them as a cheerleader and a shoulder to lean on, but it isn’t your job to be involved in all of the details when your child applies to colleges.

3. Get help and offer resources.

You can be your child’s support system without having to manage every step of the college application process!

To avoid getting over-involved and to increase your child’s chances, consider hiring professional help.

When you leave some of this work to a professional, you can take comfort knowing your child has the help they need, and you can be there to help them in other ways.

Whether it’s tutoring, coaching with essays, or any other part of the college application process, there is help available, and offering this help to your child is a fantastic way to support them.

4. Remember your child isn’t you.

When your child is applying to colleges, you might experience a sort of deja vu from your own college experience. Perhaps you wish you had done things differently, or wish you could do it all again.

Either way, remember that your child’s college application is different than yours.

Projecting your own opinions and experiences onto your child isn’t necessarily the best way to support them.

Let them have their own college experience!

5. Don’t hinder the creative process.

Parents can inadvertently hinder their child’s creative process when they’re working on college application essays.

Perhaps you’re dead set on your child choosing one topic for a college essay when they feel really strongly about another.

it is ultimately their choice!

You can offer your opinion, but leave it at that and don’t force your own ideas onto your child.

Allow your child to explore their creative side. Unique essays and applications help your child stand out.

6. Motivate, don’t dictate.

When you motivate your child during the college process rather than dictating their every move, it helps them establish their independence and feel empowered in their choices.

One way to do this is by encouraging them to make college campus visits and maybe even going with them.

Since you know their preferences and tendencies so well, you can help your teen compare and contrast college options. Walking a campus, touring with a student guide, and speaking with faculty can offer assurance in ways a brochure or website never can.

This is also a way to bond and build great memories with your child!

Don’t miss these other tips for making college campus visits with your child.

7. Just listen.

A parent’s ideal role during the college application and admissions process is best described as the supporter. And one of the best ways to support your child is by just listening.

As tempting as it may be to offer advice and always try to fix things, sometimes your child just needs someone to listen to their fears, disappointments, and successes!

Lending a listening ear can strengthen your bond and provide a critical source of support for your child during this time.

Putting it all together.

Every child, parent, and family is different, and the best way to support a child during the college admissions process can vary.

But when you focus on these key things, you will help make the college application process easier on both you and your child:

  • Speaking with your child about how you can help.
  • Remembering this is their first step toward major independence.
  • Offering professional help and resources.
  • Not hindering their creative process.
  • Motivating, not dictating.
  • Just listening!

If you are a busy parent who wants to help your college-bound child reach their full potential, don’t miss my “Get In and Get Money” Workshop!

Need a little more guidance?

For one-on-one support and other resources to help you or your child get into (or pay) for college, click here.

If you’d like to learn more about helping your child with the college admissions and application process, you’ll want to check out these articles too:

What To Do When Your Teen Hates Reading
4 Tips to Help Your Teen Study Better
Will This Activity Help My Teen Get into College?