A parent's role in college applications
Helping your teen with college applications may seem counter-intuitive. After all, preparing for college means preparing your teen to take more responsibility for his or her future, whether or not college plans involve moving out into a dorm or attending a commuter school and staying closer to home. Parents can really help their teens stay on track for the entire application process by sitting down at the beginning of the teen's senior year and discussing and planning for the timeline for the rest of the school year. A concrete plan helps teens take ownership of the first step in their college experience while letting parents feel a little more comfortable that deadlines won't fly by unnoticed.
Decisions to make
- Has your teen narrowed down his choices, including dream schools — the ones that are a bit of a reach — and schools that match well with his academic and extracurricular record?
- Is early decision something she'd like to pursue?
- Will he take both the ACT and the SAT this year?
- Are her classes and extracurricular activities still on par with the rest of her academic record?
- Which, if any, Advanced Placement classes and exams will he take?
Dates to know
Our College Application Timeline printable provides an outline for your teen's senior year, but there are a few dates you should double check and fill in on your own. Each high school office and college admissions office will have specific dates, and filling them in on the printable will help keep all of your teen's information in one place.
- Early admission deadlines for specific schools
- Application deadlines for specific schools
- Deadlines for high school teachers, coaches or other mentors for letters of recommendation
- Deadlines for the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) for your state, the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE® for non-federal aid, college-specific financial aid and other scholarship opportunities
- Tuition deposit deadline at the chosen college
Enjoy the college application process
Between the deadlines, drafts of college essays, requests for letters of recommendations and standardized tests, parents and teens can get buried in stress and worry over those all-important acceptance letters. An organized plan for the year will give your family a little wiggle room to enjoy the application process.
Take some family time to visit colleges before official visits for prospective freshmen begin — wandering a campus without a prescribed agenda can be the perfect way to truly get the feel for a school. Read college essays once with a critical eye and once to remember the experiences your teen is sharing with the admissions committees. Above all, look back on your teen's academic years with pride. You've all worked hard to get to this point, and now it's time to face a new slate of adventures, armed with the knowledge that your teen has the tools to meet any new challenge.