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How to Get Through Applications Without Screwing Up Parent-Child Relationship?

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Replies to: How to Get Through Applications Without Screwing Up Parent-Child Relationship?

  • Tperry1982Tperry1982 Registered User Posts: 1,484 Senior Member
    edited July 28
    It's not even August yet. Calm down a little, hard as that may be. You want him to start concentrating on college applications when he just may be processing, and trying to enjoy, that he is going to be a senior! That is both terrifying and exciting. Let him enjoy his senior year just a little. As you can see from the other comments, most seniors, even the most dedicated ones, do not focus on college apps this early. In August, my D, who is a rising senior at Yale, was more interested in what she was going to wear for senior run in day (the first day of school) than anything else. When he gets to school and sees that everyone else is doing apps, when the reality of being back in school and decisions need to be made kicks in, he'll buckle down. My kid finished hers and finally got in school SCEA. One and done by December.

    I do strongly suggest that you take the reigns of the administrative side of apps. I have never been a fan of kids filling out financial aid forms, FAFSA, etc. Since you are ultimately the person that is paying, you are in the best position to do that part. Don't be one of those parents who end up having a crazy family contribution because their kid was clueless about the intricacies of financial forms. Some of them make federal income tax forms look like child's play.

    On another note, it doesn't get better as they get older. My D is procrastinating on completing post grad fellowship applications, law school and grad school apps for next year. Though my role now is to just be a spectator and to listen to her commiserate, it's a little like deja vu. I know she'll focus once she gets back on campus.

    Good luck. Sounds like you have a great kid. You are blessed. He will be fine.
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 7,967 Senior Member
    I think parents absolutely should do everything related to financial aid.

    People make too much of the essay. Colleges know how much coaching is going on, and the essays have diminished in importance. A really bad one can sometimes hurt, and an extraordinary one can sometimes help. But honestly, I know kids who wrote horrible, awful essays and still got in to their top choice. (As a side note, efforts to write a "unique" essay result in the worst writing.)

    My kids finished their essays at the last minute because they were too busy with the activities that did in fact get them in to schools. And one of mine was dealing with serious health problems along with everything else. It gave us some perspective on what is important.

    Keep the number of schools down. Visit and research and make those choices count in the beginning rather than choosing at the end of the process. It is fine to apply to even just two schools, and I think 6 should be the limit. This actually eliminates the need for so much parental management and spreadsheets etc.

    School and home environments are both contributing to stress. It does not have to be that way.
  • mathmommathmom Registered User Posts: 29,333 Senior Member
    The first college trip I took my younger son on, I told him we were going to see two schools that were within an easy drive of us. I was pretty sure he'd dislike one (too small, too rural), but it also had things I liked about it and that he might want to consider when he was looking at other colleges. The other one was barely too small and he ended up almost applying ED, though in the final analysis it was actually his least favorite of the places he applied to. (Or at least the one he got into.) I made it quite clear he didn't have to apply to either college, the idea for the first trip was to get an idea of the variety that was out there. I don't think they felt I was either over or underestimating their abilities.

    40+ years ago I visited four colleges. All my classmates (one of the top girls boarding school at the time) did visits. I only applied to three - that's definitely a big difference there.
  • bopperbopper Registered User Posts: 7,556 Senior Member
    @TiggerDad The problem is when missed opportunities mean missed scholarships or missed chances to reduce cost for college.
  • TiggerDadTiggerDad Registered User Posts: 781 Member
    @bopper - Yes, AND those are what I meant by consequences. When my son was getting ready with college applications, I made sure that he understood how much we can afford, where the money is coming from, and what the expectations are when the cost exceeds our resources. I also made sure he perfectly understood that he's the one who's going to college, not me, and that he needs to take ownership of the process with one exception: FAFSA and other FA applications.

    Someone characterized what I meant as the "hammer home consequences" type, but it wasn't. At the time he was stressed out just like everyone else with the whole daunting process of applying to multiple colleges, and the last thing he needed was a drill sergeant type enforcer breathing down his neck. Fortunately, he was quite motivated about where he wanted to go for college and didn't require repeated reminders about the deadlines. His older brother, on the other hand, was not motivated and did not want to put much effort into the process. I did not intervene and stayed away from the process for the most part, not even a help reading his essays. In fact, to this day I still don't know what he wrote in his essays. He's now happily attending our in-state public school, and I'm happy as a parent, too.

    As a parent, I feel it's my duty to guide my kids to the best capabilities, but once I feel my duty has been thoroughly executed, they need to then take on the ownership of their own decisions and actions. There's nothing wrong with going to a community college, which I happen to believe was the greatest educational genius creation ever conceived. As a first-generation immigrant teen knowing not a word of English, it was a local community college that gave me the necessary wings to fly into higher realms of opportunities. Would anyone believe if I claim that I had received much better quality education at that community college than the ensuing degrees at Cal-Berkeley and Harvard combined?
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 7,967 Senior Member
    I think the most important element is authenticity (and likeability) which adults tend to tamper with if they come within a few feet of an essay.
  • raclutraclut Registered User Posts: 3,016 Senior Member
    edited July 28
    Few suggestions.
    1) spreadsheets or a planner with all the deadlines written in.
    2) create a new email account that you both have access to just for the college application process so that all the college communications go to this one email account.
    3) keep a bottle of wine around for yourself
    4) have him clean up his social media accounts and check the privacy settings.
    5) make a list of all the logins and passwords for the different online things he has access to for the application process.
  • LeastComplicatedLeastComplicated Registered User Posts: 401 Member
    I think essays should be taken out of the admissions process completely. Mainly because some percentage of them are not written by the applicant, to what extent, I don't know, but that has to be happening. A larger percentage of them are probably written by the applicant to some degree and then heavily edited by another party. Then, you have the kids who don't have parents or other resources to turn to for assistance, or the money to buy essay writing books, so those kids' essays are being compared with those of the kids who cheat or get significant help. That is just not a fair system.

    I don't know what the answer is - but it's not using SAT or ACT essays - my kid had a prompt where she had to analyze a writer's essay on the topic of the effect of air conditioning on society. Good grief.

    I think just a few straightforward short answer questions on the SAT/ACT like: "What is something you like in your hometown?", "Describe a happy event in your life." or "What is something that you find very challenging?" would be perfectly adequate to assess a kid's writing skills and ability to express their personality and uniqueness. At least it would guarantee that the student actually did the writing themselves in that proctored environment. When there is no way to prove that an applicant actually writes an essay themselves with no assistance, the value of it is nil in my opinion.

    I realize this does not address the OP's question, but I felt compelled to add this addendum to my previous rant.

  • Much2learnMuch2learn Registered User Posts: 4,225 Senior Member
    One of the biggest advantages of a college consultant is that they act as a buffer in the process, letting you be the supportive parent.
  • intparentintparent Registered User Posts: 28,335 Senior Member
    @jonri isn't wrong. Some parents shouldn't be editing their kid's essays.
  • Much2learnMuch2learn Registered User Posts: 4,225 Senior Member
    @intparent Unfortunately, most parents have no idea about what they don't know.
  • theloniusmonktheloniusmonk Registered User Posts: 741 Member
    "I think essays should be taken out of the admissions process completely. Mainly because some percentage of them are not written by the applicant, to what extent, I don't know, but that has to be happening. A larger percentage of them are probably written by the applicant to some degree and then heavily edited by another party."

    For sure many international applicants are having their essays written for them, just spend some time at a country of you choice and you'll get a pretty good idea of the "resources" international applicants use, like you know how tutors get a copy of the SATs earlier than US-based tutors. Anyway, I digress. Intl students are typically just 10% of the applicants, but I do think essays should be looked at. I suggested in one thread that CA essay should be eliminated and replaced by each college having their own essays, and maybe one essay be handwritten (like the old days). This would cut down on the number of apps as well.

    The only way you'll stop essays being written by other people is for colleges to compare an essay in say a freshman seminar and the application one, and if there's a difference in quality do some kind of reprimand, and let that get out.
  • 2mrmagoo2mrmagoo Registered User Posts: 101 Junior Member
    My DS really didn't start engaging in the process until August. He didn't have his final college list until late September. He did complete a one week common app essay workshop at his high school in August, but he hadn't started supplemental essays until late September. I hired a tutor whose primary responsibility was to set up a timeline for DS for his essays and hold him to it. The tutor was also his second set of eyes for editing. DS met with the tutor once a week from about mid-sept until mid December. I was clear that all apps needed to be ready to go by Dec 20. While this may not work for all, my son would have never missed a deadline for a teacher or a tutor. The tutor was affordable and took a lot of the stress off my relationship with my son.

    Sometimes we mean well as parents, but the reality is we can add a lot of stress to the process. When I first read my son's common app essay I was moved by it, but I also doubted it was a good idea. I called his high school counselor who said he should not change one word. Sometimes we are too close to the situation and it is helpful to have unbiased third parties involved.
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