As a mother of a college applicant this year, I wanted to share some maternal advice. I also happen to have joined IntroAmerica recently but that’s not why I wanted to write this piece. First, take a deep breath and try to relax. The process may seem daunting, however, I can assure you it is manageable.
You may be concerned about your student gaining admission to a college. There are thousands of colleges and universities in the United States. One, and likely more than one, will be a good match for your student and family. Spend time discussing what is important: the location and weather, the courses of study, the number of students, the social atmosphere, academic rigor, and the cost. These conversations will help you narrow the list to a handful of places to which your student will apply. Do not drive yourself crazy applying to tens of colleges of all different sorts. For example, our student has chosen to focus on mid sized and large schools that have good biology and modern language departments and are located in or near a city.
Your role in the college process is much the same as it has been all the school years. Support your student through the application process. Organization is critical, and you may need to help your student keep track of the due dates for materials and the requirements of the different colleges. Your student may also need your assistance requesting transcripts and references from teachers and administrators. I am a hyper organized person, so I created a set of folders to keep track of information on each school and copies of test results and relevant papers.
Parental support will go beyond the practical. Your student will need your emotional support as well. He or she may be worried about disappointing you when not all the colleges offer acceptances. He or she may be overwhelmed with the choices or even worried about you left at home alone after classes begin. Focusing on the positive outcomes and talking about what is best for the family and the student will ease the process. We think experiencing a different part of the country will be a good experience for our student so she is not applying to any schools within 200 miles. As a family we talk about how important it is to get to know other college students with different backgrounds because, after college in the working world, you need to be able to work in a diverse group.
In the end, an acceptance will arrive and you and your student will start the next stage in your lives. Just the other day, an email acceptance arrived for our student from a university. She applied early action to a large, public university that has 85 different majors in biology and teaches over 100 languages. My husband and I are pleased and excited as she gets ready to further her education.