Parents, I know you worry about your child when it comes to preparing for college applications. I’ve been through it with my parents and let me tell you, it’s very stressful.
But here are some things you can do to make your and your child’s life easier.
- Start preparing for SATs / SAT II or ACTs early. It’s better to get it done and over with as soon as possible. It saves time and money later on if your child does well on the testing. Junior year is a mess with all the AP testing and can negatively impact any SAT or ACT scores. And honestly, there’s no time senior year because the applications are due early in the school year (typically Nov-Jan). Getting some testing done during sophomore or summer after junior year is best.
- Your child should know his or her guidance counselor. I cannot stress this enough. Guidance counselors have access to virtually every college and can talk to admissions officers directly. They are also required to write their students’ recommendations. You want your child’s to be more unique and personal instead of the generic “Jane Doe is a good student and works hard“. Get your child to become familiar with his or her guidance counselor early in the school year. It’ll be a huge advantage later on.
- Make sure your child is becoming familiar with a couple teachers by the end of junior year. Most colleges require one or two recommendations from people other than the guidance counselor’s. It’s important that your child talks to teachers he or she wants a recommendation from. No teacher wants to write about someone who just sits quietly in the back of the classroom. Your child should seek out teachers of their favorite subjects and become friendly with them. It is best to ask the teachers to write a recommendation around May during junior year. Your child should keep in contact with them throughout summer.
- Your child should have an idea of what he or she is interested in. Checking out colleges becomes easier when your child has a major in mind. Various colleges are ranked by majors and programs. It is also easier to write college essays if your child has a clear idea of what he or she is interested in, I promise you that. But if your child is undecided, decide on colleges by location, student population, reputation, or maybe even the food. Does he or she want to go to a place with a higher percentage of people in sororities or fraternities? What about the school traditions? Don’t forget to stay in range of your child’s grades and scores.
- Look through the CommonApp website as early as possible. It’s a confusing and difficult process to go through on the first try, believe me. Have your child sign up early and look through the application to get a general idea of what it asks for. You can also add colleges and check out their supplement essays and other requirements. It is also better to have your child start planning the Common Application essay as early as possible. It’ll save your child the frustration and stress.
- Don’t make your child apply to colleges he or she isn’t interested in. I know that you, as a parent, want the best for your child. But simply applying is an expensive process: $60~70 dollars go into every application. Why make your child apply to a school he or she refuses to go to and waste money? It also might make you seem controlling and too demanding. It’s better to have a wide range of schools your child would truly consider attending.
Of course, everything is easier said than done. Just remember to take things one by one and soon enough, your child will be on his or her way to college that’s best for him / her.