Helping a teenager get into college can be very stressful for parents. As graduating classes have become larger, and the number of students who are college-bound continues to increase, (by 70 percent in the last decade according to the National Center for Educational Statistics), college admission has become hyper competitive. As a result, students are spending hours and hours applying to more and more schools. With over 4,400 degree-granting institutions in the United States, the array of possibilities is enough to make your head spin, and then there is the scholarship application process to consider! So, what is a good-intentioned but very overwhelmed parent to do?
The reality is, that these days, the college preparation process should start early, freshman year, by making sure that your student is taking challenging classes. In addition, students may want to seek out adult or professional help with the application process. In many situations, the application is the only opportunity that they will have to differentiate themselves from other students. Of course, the level of parent involvement that is necessary depends on your child. Some kids need assistance with every step of the process while others just need guidance. However, even for a very motivated kid, the process is overwhelming and can be very intense. Anything that a parent can do to ease the stress is a gift, and with that in mind, here are some strategies to help your student get into college from the US News and World Report:
1. Get an early start and finish strong-
Make sure that your child makes a four year plan and starts taking challenging courses their freshman year. Colleges want to see that a student has focused from start to finish on getting the best education that their school has to offer.
2. Take on challenges, responsibly-
Encourage your child to take the most challenging courses they can based on their strengths and interests.
3. Don’t apply too broadly-
It is much better to be an exceptional applicant at six schools than an average applicant at twelve or twenty!
4. There’s room for error, with an explanation-
Make sure to explain any discrepancies in grades or performance instead of just leaving them open to interpretation.
5. Students should be true to who they are-
Make sure that your student is involved in activities that truly interest them. It is better to get involved in a few activities and really make an impact than being superficially involved in a wide array of things. During the college search, they should look for colleges that suit their interests and fit their personality. Encourage them not to pick a college just because of its name or the fact that their friends are going there. It is important to choose a college that has the ideal environment for your student to thrive!
Need help with your college search, essays, or finding scholarships? Visit our college counselor at Parrish Learning Zone. Individual sessions or small groups are available at a reasonable price. We will also be holding a PLZ Get Me Ready For College Workshop June 17-21 and 24-26 and it is limited to 8 students, check out our website for more details.