Written by Angela Plura, a current student at Pace University
It’s tough for parents to know their boundaries when it comes to planning for college, and even tougher when there’s a student who doesn’t seem too thrilled about the idea of college planning. Sometimes parents can take over completely, writing application essays, making phone calls, and even choosing schools without consulting their student. This is ultimately doing the student a disservice.
While it seems that you as a parent are just being helpful, it’s really just teaching the student that they can have other people (parents) to rely on when there are unpleasant tasks to complete. Which, as most of us know, is definitely not the case when coming to college. If your student isn’t taking the initiative to plan for college, find out why! A lot of parents push their students into college when they would be more suited at a community college first, figuring out what it is exactly that they want to do. It’s better to figure it out before you put a deposit on a pricy 4-year college that your student didn’t want to go to in the first place!
While each student varies, the first step for parents is always the most important: Figuring out whether or not the student knows what he/she wants. Sometimes the students are more apprehensive about the application process as the parent is. Sometimes the student knows exactly what he or she wants, and is very vocal about it and takes an active approach. Either way, it is important for a parent to ask questions early on, probably sometime near the end of junior year, and gauge whether or not the student seems ready to delve into the process themselves, or whether he or she is going to need some guidance, parental or otherwise.
Another important aspect that parents should keep in mind while working through the application process with their student is to be supportive of all his or her ideas. Even if some of them are too far to reach, being supportive early on is very important. As the time draws nearer to start applying and you don’t really think your student can get into Yale, maybe the support should be focused in another direction. However, if your student is dead set on going to an Ivy League or a “reach” school during his or her earlier years in high school, be supportive! Even if your student doesn’t achieve this goal, he or she will have worked hard and will have the confidence to handle any situation that comes their way.