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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?

  • prospect1prospect1 Registered User Posts: 1,425 Senior Member
    Regarding the essay: never change the student's voice. If you are good at grammar, spelling, etc. then feel free to edit for those types of errors. Otherwise, you absolutely must let the student express him/herself, in all of their 17/18 year old glory.

    One of my kids wrote a personal statement that absolutely appalled me. I thought it was terrible and even vulgar, a poor attempt to be funny IMO and I said so. Off it went anyway...and the acceptances rolled in, including from top 20s.

    I learned two things: (1) this is the kid's essay, not yours, and (2) I must have a lousy sense of humor.
  • prospect1prospect1 Registered User Posts: 1,425 Senior Member
    "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."

    I believe colleges have access to the writing component of the ACT/SAT. If they wanted to compare the writing, they could. Of course, some allowance needs to be made between a piece of writing carefully prepared by a student over some period of time, with editing - and one written hastily, in a timed setting. But things like voice and style might be comparable as a check on authenticity.
  • bearcatfanbearcatfan Registered User Posts: 537 Member
    What worked for us this summer is, once a week, we made an appointment to do application stuff. For my daughter, it was mostly to work on essays (the Common App as well as some smaller ones required of different programs). I knew I couldn't bother her until Tuesday; she knew she had to bring it on Tuesday.

    I was pretty much organizing the campus visit train - we spent most of junior year narrowing it down to seven she wanted to see. Our job was a little easier because she wanted to stay in-state and do a direct-admit nursing program, so that made it manageable. While she toured and talked to people, I took a crazy amount of notes. Now all that is summed up in "cheat sheets" for each college - and this week, we are meeting to determine if we are indeed comparing apples to apples or if we want more information from any of them.

    The goal is to have all applications completed by October 1 - at least her part - and have transcripts and ACT scores requested. We shall see.

    [-O<
  • bhs1978bhs1978 Registered User Posts: 261 Junior Member
    Interesting the number of people forcing their kids to write the essays in the summer. For both of my kids (both my honors English kid and my regular English kid) at their school, the first assignment in English was to start working on their essays. They are given the prompts and with all English paper assignments they had to write outlines which were turned in and edited then their essays which were turned in edited and graded. The earliest early action deadline we faced was November one. And as expected my son got all of his materials collected and submitted on October 29.
    Got scholarships to all schools he applied to (we are not an ivy type family)
  • 2mrmagoo2mrmagoo Registered User Posts: 101 Junior Member
    bhs1978 not all schools offer essay support at school or include it as part of the curriculum. For some families, perhaps students in fall sports, those being recruited or others still testing, starting in summer is highly advised.
  • northwestynorthwesty Registered User Posts: 2,636 Senior Member
    We tried, and failed, to get our kids to do the Common App essay over the summer. Makes a lot of sense to do it over the summer, but it just didn't happen. We let the essay slide over the summer and instead focused on ACT prep. That's actually a great thing to do over the summer with an eye to taking the first ACT/SAT in early September and being completely done with the standardized testing before senior year grind cranks up.

    For the youngest kid, we did spend some time over the summer brainstorming about various possible Common App essay topics. Having a work-able topic then made the essay support in HS english class much more productive.

    If you have the app list pretty well identified, we found it easier to get the kids to write first drafts of the shorter college specific essays over the summer. In addition to being shorter, those also tend to require less of the deep dive introspection that the teenagers (rightly) dread. If you can get two or three of those in good shape, you will be way ahead. Since you likely can recycle those for multiple schools over and over.

    As part of my job as application administrative assistant for the youngest, I created a "College App Stuff" folder on the cloud that was shared between me and the kid. It made things SO much easier than how I handled the older kids.

    All the spreadsheets, timelines, essay prompts, draft essays, resume, etc. etc. etc. went in there. Most helpful was the master password document. You are going to wind up with online credentials for every single school applied to (at many schools there is more than one online system and set of credentials), plus accounts at ACT, SAT, Naviance, Common App. Having that list continuously updated, backed up and shared was huge.
  • TheGreyKingTheGreyKing Registered User Posts: 685 Member
    I think the college application process is stressful to both teens and parents for two reasons. First, the stakes seem high. Second, and maybe more importantly, the process ends with the child leaving home. And neither parent nor child is truly certain, underneath, if they are ready for the separation.

    You might remind yourself of what you said in your first sentence. Your son has always been independent and self-motivated. If he always gets his school work done and does not hand in work late, without your needing to supervise or nag, he surely won't be late handing in his applications if left to his own devices. Step back.

    I am practicing the same myself, as I notice my son already has completed his summer homework for his upcoming AP classes in physics and calculus, and regularly works on his AP English and College Spanish summer readings... but has chosen to do all of the above FIRST, and has saved his college essay work (which also is a homework assignment for AP English) for last. He did work on his essay a bit this weekend, and, as we are still in July, that's early enough from any objective, nonemotional standpoint. But HE needs to be in charge, and I need to keep my own anxieties out of it so he can manage his own without being further burdened by mine.
  • glidoglido Registered User Posts: 5,656 Senior Member
    Break it all down into little pieces. Do them one at a time. Get two essays written over the summer. Don't ruin Thanksgiving or Christmas!
  • gclsportsgclsports Registered User Posts: 206 Junior Member
    OP here. Thanks to all for the thoughtful replies! I had intended to step away from CC for a day or two to take a quick breather and gain some perspective, but got an unwelcome distraction that kept me away longer: sudden excruciating back and leg pain brought on by compressed discs I didn't realize I had, and I have been lying flat on my back on the floor for the last week! It makes you look at things differently for sure, and I am in a better frame of mind (when it comes to the college process) now.

    I appreciate all of the suggestions. Some of the things - administrative tasks, budget discussions, etc. - I have already been doing. Other things I hadn't thought of, but are really good ideas that I am going to implement. S is on board especially with discussing college only at the weekly meeting and with the Google docs sharing.

    Judging from the emotional reaction I had to @TheGreyKing 's post, I think you hit the nail on the head. I know that S18 will get his applications in one way or another. Maybe not the way I would do it, but that doesn't really matter since it is his process. And I know in my heart that S18 is prepared for all that college brings. He is mature and responsible and has good judgment. I don't really have any doubt that I could take him to any college anywhere in the country right now, leave him there, and he will get along just fine on his own. But even though I know that, I am not ready for him to leave the nest. And I think he has mixed feelings about leaving it. I know on some level, this struggle to get through the college application process is about each of us preparing for the separation.

    Thanks again for lending your insight and perspective.
  • persimmonypersimmony Registered User Posts: 30 New Member
    I've been having the same problem with my son. Told him he should have a draft of the common app essay by the end of the summer, offered to help brainstorm ideas, etc. It's the end of the summer and nothing happened. He had plenty of time. Pretty frustrated. He's not a bad writer, but I don't want to rush or wait until the last minute.

    Every step of the college process has been like pulling teeth. He hasn't expressed any interest in the college search at all, hasn't done any independent research. We have visited several colleges and he seems kind of interested when he's there, but after we're home, it's like it never happened.

    I'm dreading the next few months.
  • MarianMarian Registered User Posts: 12,444 Senior Member
    Every step of the college process has been like pulling teeth. He hasn't expressed any interest in the college search at all, hasn't done any independent research.

    My son was like this. I think he was scared of going to college but couldn't acknowledge or talk about the feeling. So he avoided the process as much as possible. I think he was trying to limit his emotional reactions by limiting his exposure to the cause. That might actually make sense in terms of dealing with his emotions, but unfortunately, it made it difficult to get things done.
  • pkchamp89pkchamp89 Registered User Posts: 332 Member
    edited August 25
    This behavior seems fairly normal of a HS student. My S was no different. Great student, hard worker, etc but the college process, although he couldn't wait to go, was just a hassle. He avoided it like the plague. He hates writing so writing the essays were like asking him to go for a root canal over and over again. Common App was just another tedious task. Frankly, couldn't blame him. The reality is that all this stuff needs to get done. What I think makes it harder for these students is that they are also starting their senior year. There is so much emotion attached with it whether they realize it or not. It's an exciting time for them but it can also be stressful. As a parent, my job was to keep him on task. And, it meant that I was constantly nagging. I couldn't stand hearing my own voice after awhile! Lol! I can only imagine how he felt. It was all worth it when he signed onto the portal of his top choice and was accepted. Magically, all those bad memories where forgotten. Hang in there. You will get through this. ;)
  • Momma2018Momma2018 Registered User Posts: 21 New Member
    @Suburbmom - Just got around to reading this section and your advice was great. My son also talked about his essay but dragged his feet on actually writing it. I took your suggestion and had him try using a speech recognition program and he was able to get a full first draft done by speaking it. I think he may have to try this for schoolwork too!

    Also, as I was dragging him around to college visits and not seeing him get as excited as I had hoped, I realized that he is afraid he will not get in to these schools and doesn't want to let himself fall in love with a school (or show others that he cares that much) and be disappointed. I am backing off a bit and hoping his GC will help in Fall and let him know if his college list is reasonable.

    This process has gotten so much more competitive than when I went to school. I think if I applied to my alma mater now, I would not get in by today's standards!
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