Every parent you meet has a different philosophy about how involved they should be in the college admissions process. There is no one perfect way, but there are definitely guidelines. Follow these 5 suggestions for a peaceful, productive application season!

  • Be Supportive

Whether you remember it or not, applying to college is one of the top 10 most stressful events in a lifetime. Try to cut your kid some slack during this time. Acknowledge that they are struggling through the behemoth chore of getting into college– even if they don’t get the dishes done or shovel the sidewalk. Try not to be the dream crusher. If your kid dreams of Harvard, tell them you know how tough it is to get in but you believe in them!

  • Be Realistic

This is the corollary to be supportive. If your kid has no chance of getting into Yale, don’t pressure them to apply. We all think our own kids are amazing. That adds up quickly to too many amazing kids for them all to attend Ivies. And don’t tell the neighborhood holiday party that you can’t wait for them to hear back from MIT. Setting unrealistic expectations is a recipe for disaster.

  • Study Up

It’s very helpful when parents have at least a rudimentary knowledge of the application process, and the requirements for each school on your kid’s list. And please note that things have changed significantly sincewe applied. You need to read up to understand today’s competitive climate. Youwill need to supply accurate information for applications and financial aid aswell.

  • Do Your Own Research

You know your kid better than anyone. Give your supportive, realistic, knowledgeable self time to search the internet for a range of schools and specific programs that might be a good fit. Look to supplement schools where they might already know they want to apply. If they have all extreme reaches, find a safety school where they are very likely to be admitted but that also has a unique major that might be of interest. Figure out if your kid is willing to consider any new schools you find and arrange a visit if possible.

  • Be Patient

Track the deadlines. Don’t nag about them, just add them to the family calendar. Your kid will be working harder than they ever have before during the 16 months between September 1st of Junior year and January 1stof Senior year. There will be emotional meltdowns and melodramatic declarations. Take it in stride and you will all survive.

Written by Heather McCutchen, a Dartmouth Former Admissions Reader and InGeniusPrep Counselor.