6 Tips for Parents Going through College Applications for the First Time

April 16, 2018
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Dear Parents,

Welcome to this very exciting new chapter in life! You may have heard stories about other parents who have walked through this process before – some may be triumphant, and others may be tales of nerves and anxiety. The college application process is a roller coaster of emotion and quite an investment of time, but when you get to the other side, your child will be off on a new journey of independence and self-discovery! Are you ready to get started? Here’s a free personalized college profile evaluation to get you started off on the right foot.

As you look to begin this new phase, here are 6 tips for managing this process with your child.

1. Start early.

The key to a successful application process is starting early. Typically, application components and requirements are released on August 1st, but your child can begin many steps of the process before that date. Before summer ends, you should support your child in doing school research, visiting various college campuses, identifying interesting majors and summarizing extracurriculars, leadership experiences, summer experiences and honors/awards. By the time August 1st rolls around, your child should have a clear sense of where they want to apply and will be ready to tackle applications head on.

2. If possible, plan to visit college campuses.

If you’re able, planning college visits will allow your child to learn more about college campus life and help them make decisions about what they’re looking for. When visiting campuses, arrive armed with questions, and don’t just visit the admissions office. In addition to a campus tour, spend time wandering around academic buildings, check out multiple dining halls and spend time in the surrounding areas of campus. If after the visit your child decides that that school isn’t the right fit, don’t be disappointed! Developing opinions about schools and campuses is a step in the right direction! If you are unable to physically visit college campuses, take advantage of the virtual tours online and set up a call with an admissions officer and/or current student to get your questions answered.

3. Set expectations from the beginning.

If there are any specific family considerations that will play a role in this process, address them early. You may want to discuss location and cost of attendance, as those are the most common factors in school selection. If cost of attendance is an anticipated challenge, start your research early on financial aid options – there are more out there than you may think!

4. Assemble a team.

You’ve heard the saying “it takes a village,” right? It definitely applies to college applications! Find a small, but reliable group of people who will help you and your child through this process. Parents often commiserate that it is tough to find the perfect balance between managing timelines, being a copy editor, a cheerleader and a manager of expectations. Your child should be the driver of his/her college applications, but if you have the resources to bring in a small village of experts, it relieves the pressure on you and will everyone focused on the goal: gaining admission to their dream schools!

5. Get excited about the safeties.

The truth is, even the most academically talented students aren’t receiving thick admissions envelopes from all of their top schools. Students across the country are all competing for a seat at desirable schools, so it is important to develop a balanced list of reach, target & safety schools. Safety schools are schools that, based on class profiles, your child is likely to be admitted to. Your child should plan to apply to 2-3 safety schools, and they should be thrilled if they are offered admission. While they may receive the coveted congratulatory letter from their dream reach school, it’s important to have exciting backup options, too.

6. Keep the mission in mind.

In a process where it is easy to lose sight of the goal and get caught up in the anxiety of the process, your #1 role is to be supportive as your child tackles these applications in anticipation of the next chapter of their life. College is an opportunity for your child to grow in a dozen different ways, so help them develop a list of best-fit schools that will be the perfect place for them to grow, and help keep their eyes on the prize when things start to get hazy. When all is said and done, you’ll have conquered this together, and when you pack them up for their freshman year, you’ll look back and be so proud of everything they’ve accomplished to get to that point.

We offer students and parents a free personalized college profile evaluation giving you tailored advice to help dramatically improve your student’s chances of admissions success. Sign up now!

About The Author

Veritas Prep, Guest Blogger
Veritas Prep, Guest Blogger

Veritas Prep is the largest privately-owned provider of test prep and admissions consulting services in the world, offering SAT, ACT, GMAT, and GRE test preparation courses and private tutoring. The company also offers college and MBA admissions consulting to help students gain admissions to the world’s best colleges, universities, and graduate schools. Veritas Prep’s SAT and ACT courses are delivered in-person and live online and feature the only zero risk, money back guarantee in the industry.

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Accepted to Northwestern, Dartmouth, UC Berkeley, UChicago, Rice, UMich, USC

Aspiring entrepreneur interested in computer science, health, and sustainability; applied to college as an econ/environmental science major.

Accepted to Columbia, GA Tech, Northwestern, Princeton, UGA

As a part of Princeton Class of 2019, I know how difficult the application process is...I got denied, accepted, and wait-listed to several places. Let me help you find your path to success!

Accepted to Stanford, UPenn, JHU, Georgetown, Amherst, Smith, Hamilton, Bryn Mawr, Spelman, Holy Cross, Rutgers, Rutgers

I am a Stanford student from New Jersey, hoping to major in one of the social sciences.

Accepted to Brown, Amherst, Duke, Emory, Santa Clara, USC, Pacific, Vanderbilt, UC Berkeley, UCLA, UCSB, UCSD, UC Davis, UC Irvine

Nature lover, STEM nerd. Will likely be late because of who I am as a person.

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