HomeArticlesParents Seek Tips for Assisting College Planning Senior

Dear Estelle. Now that our daughter is about to begin her senior year and tackle the college process, how do we navigate that fine line between beings too intrusive and not involved enough? Like a typical 17 year old, she thinks she knows everything and if she doesn’t her friends do. We have had a pretty good relationship but feel she needs our input when she takes this major step in her life. Any tips? S&J, Parents

This is an important time in your child’s life as she seeks independence and becomes an adult. Planning for college is an ideal way for her to begin the process. Here are some tips to make this time more beneficial for both of you.

  • DO NOT DIRECT. Let her take ownership of the college process. Most of the time the student makes the right choice. Find a comfortable place between running the college search process and remaining at a comfortable distance.
  • Be supportive and caring. Don’t be a nag.
  • Listen to what she’s saying and what she’s not saying. Often fears are not verbalized. Starting this new stage in her life can be scary.
  • Set limits at the beginning of the planning process that are important to you i.e. cost and distance, so there are no surprises.
  • Look for the “right fit” in colleges. There are many colleges that would be appropriate options but the right chemistry is important.
  • Make college visits together.
  • Help your child to understand who she really is. What are her values? How has she changed throughout the high school years?
  • Communicate.
  • Parents should be in charge of financial aid forms and students in charge of their college applications.
  • Try to maintain a sense of humor.
  • Be honest about your aspirations for the child.
  • Be optimistic. Celebrate your child’s accomplishments.
  • Attend all programs offered by your school and don’t bypass the counseling office.
  • Allow the child to develop her own timetable for submitting applications understanding that missed dates result in missed opportunities.
  • Consider hiring an educational consultant, an interested, knowledgeable, and objective third party, who can help not only the child with the total college process but assist parents in thinking in a realistic manner and maintaining a perspective.

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