1. Don’t panic. You don’t want to add to the already-existing college admissions stress. Remain calm and level-headed. Your child will go to college. It may not be the college that either one of you had in mind, but ultimately students usually end up where they are supposed to be and they are usually happy and successful. Remember that college is what you make of it.
  2. Don’t push a college onto your child. Just because you went there or dreamed of going there doesn’t make it the perfect choice. Your child will get more out of a school he really wants to be at. The right fit for you may not be the right fit for your child!
  3. Schedule a meeting with your child’s high school college counselor at the beginning of the year. Make sure the list of colleges the counselor recommends is balanced with reach, target, and safety schools and finalize the list. If you or your child has any questions about when to apply (early decision, early action, single choice early action, ED2, rolling, etc), ask the counselor. Also if either you or child has questions about anything on the applications, any instructions, ask the counselor.
  4. Many high school college counselors ask parents to fill out a long form about their child. This helps the counselor get to know the student better. Make sure you are comprehensive with your answers. Providing more information is better than less. Be honest in these forms. All parents think their children are wonderful, but be honest about weaknesses and failures too. This may help the counselor find better college matches. If the school does not offer this form to fill out, write a few pages on your child and offer it to the counselor. Describe his character and give some anecdotes to back up each point. Address strengths, accomplishments, and weaknesses, style of learning, passions, impact outside the classroom, role in the family, any hardships your child has been through, learning differences or extenuating circumstances you think have affected your child’s record.
  5. Don’t make this a “we” process. Clearly, as a parent you are involved to some extent in your child’s college admissions process. You may have paid for standardized tests, accompanied your child on college visits, and will most likely be paying for some, if not all of college. However, your child will get him into college and he needs to be empowered to do this. When you say “we took the SAT and it was tough” or “we are applying to Michigan” to other people, it not only sounds weird, it takes away the accomplishment from your child. It un-empowers him. This process is about your child. Keep the focus on your child. Take yourself out of it as much as possible, other than being your child’s cheerleader and encouraging him every step of the way.
  6. Don’t write essays or edit too much of them for your child’s applications.College admissions officers can smell a parent’s contribution from miles away. This will only hurt your child! You may think you’re being helpful, or doing them a favor, but make sure your child writes her own essay and that her own voice shines through.
  7. Look over your child’s résumé before he sends in the applications. Often times a student will forget to mention things: awards he has received or activities he participated in during the school year or summer. Parents should serve as a tickler – a reminder of the things they’ve accomplished that they might have forgotten. You can even check the time commitments for each entry, add them up, and make sure your child is not short-changing himself.

Seeking more advice on college admissions but discouraged by the high costs of private college counseling? At ApplyWise, you’ll find the expert guidance you need at a fraction of the cost.

ApplyWise is based on the methodology of Dr. Kat Cohen, one of the country’s leading admissions counselors.