8 Types of (College Applicant) Parents

November 16, 2016

College applicants aren’t the only players in the process. Parents, we know many of you are lurking in the background if not leading the charge on the frontline. We see you. Here are the 8 different types of college applicant parents we’ve come across. You know which one you are… 

1. The OG Tiger Mom 

This parent has done her homework. She knows the optimal month for her kid to take the SAT, has memorized all the supplemental essay prompts, and investigated which schools need a french horn player (which her lucky applicant picked up in middle school). She’s captaining the ship. She really wishes she were the one applying – she would crush it.

2. The Puppeteer

This parent doesn’t overtly assert her control, but she’s definitely pulling the strings behind the scenes. A master of tactful coercion, this parent is able to convince her applicant that every strategic step originated with her kid.

3. The Backseat Driver

The Backseat Driver isn’t entirely sure which path is necessarily the right path to take, but he’s definitely vocal with his suggestions. This is probably his first time through the wringer, so he’s taking as many people’s advice as possible. Every fork in the road is an opportunity to influence the destination. He’s doing the best he can with what he’s got.

4. The Surrogate

Sometimes, you just need to bring someone else in to parent your kid. This parent knows her words will fall on deaf ears. But, hire a third party college expert to channel her wishes, and her applicant will fall in line.

5. The Closer

This parent stays benched and inactive until the last minute. She steers clear of her applicant and offers advice only when asked. But, when it comes crunch time, the Closer steps in to make sure the game isn’t lost in the final minutes.

6. The Financier

This parent isn’t particularly involved in the substantive aspects of the application process. She is, however, concerned with financing the endeavor. She guides her applicant toward schools that are economically viable, and does her best to navigate FAFSA and hunt for scholarships.

7. The Hands-off Passenger

He whole heartedly trusts that his kid can handle the application process for herself, so he stays totally hands-free. For better or worse, his applicant has the controls, and he’s just along for the ride. 

8. The Co-pilot

Chances are, you genuinely think you’re the Co-pilot who’s perfectly in sync with your kid. Not too aggressive. Not too passive. Just the perfect amount of support for your applicant to nail each takeoff and landing. Hey, you might be… But that’s a question only your Pilot can answer.

The college application is a tough, emotionally draining, drawn-out process for applicants and parents. We feel your pain. Share your experience with us in the comment section below! Stayed tuned for upcoming webinars where we’ll have parents who’ve been in your shoes answer your questions.

About The Author

Stephanie Shyu
Stephanie Shyu

Steph is our founder and the most prolific consumer of Easy Mac™® within a 3-mile radius of our office. She attended Duke where she was a Div 1 fencer, then picked up a J.D. and a Wharton Certificate focusing on Entrepreneurial Studies from UPenn plus an LL.M. from the University of Hong Kong. She founded an educational charity in rural China and was once an aspiring journalist (as is clearly evident from this artfully crafted author bio). Named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list, she gives interviews and talks about startups and education – email her at steph@admitsee.com.




Browse Successful Application Files

tannar2020
Stanford ‘20


Accepted to Stanford, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, UCLA

Born in small town, interested in math, science, and literature. Attending Stanford University starting fall of 2016, planning on studying engineering or computer science, with a minor in a foreign language.
elle2020
Brown ‘20


Accepted to Brown, UPenn, Wellesley, Kenyon, Macalester, Holyoke, Harvard, Bowdoin

Just another girl finally through the college apps rat race. I'm happy to share with you what I did to get through it! Currently I'm pre-law and possibly majoring in Public Policy.
jpm13
Rochester ‘20


Accepted to Rochester, Rutgers, Fordham, College of NJ, Drexel

Hey! I'm a freshman at University of Rochester Class of 2020 interested in double majoring in Biology and Spanish, eventually applying to med school. I'm passionate about studying science, doing research and learning new languages.
uhoh29
JHU ‘19


Accepted to JHU, Cornell, Northeastern, Fordham, UMD, Wisconsin, Temple

Junior Woodrow Wilson Research Fellow at Johns Hopkins majoring in English and Writing Seminars

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