Parents can play a vital role during the admissions process
By Meenal Arora
The college admission
process is a life-changing event not just for your child, but for the whole family. The beginning of the college signifies the start of a child’s transition from teenager to young adult, and is one of the major milestones in a person’s life. After school, you have to set your children free to go to college and experience life and its challenges on their own. However, while children feel they can deal with this transition, it’s normal for parents to be concerned.
Here are some tips that may help you give better support, encouragement, and confidence to your child during the college admission
Your child's academic record is an important deciding factor for
college admissions. So, guide your child towards positive study habits early in life to help her prepare for long term. Tell her how proud and excited you are for her and let her feel confident that she is doing the right thing.
Set an example
Demonstrate a positive attitude about education - Make your children believe that you value education so that they develop a positive attitude towards college and higher education. In addition to this, help spark enthusiasm of going to
Also, create a calm and happy atmosphere at home. Don’t create panic during college admission time. Take the time to explain to your child the benefits of getting education and how that will affect his or her future. Describe the different careers options that are available to them. you should also determine they type of education your child wants. If your child has a career option in mind, be certain to research the exact course requirements that she will need to prepare for after completing Class XII.
A sense of confidence and responsibility will not only ease your child’s transition from high school to college, but will also contribute towards her success in later years. So count with your child her positive qualities and achievements – also appreciate her talent.
Ask your kids to list down their strengths and weaknesses and see where they can improve. Build your children’s confidence by reminding them of the past things they had done and how they have excelled. Self-confidence can help your child approach professors with questions or problems and will make socialising with other students much easier.
Talk to your kids
Encourage your child to aim high and explore all the options and plans for college. Give your opinion and stay involved with your child’s progress. Discuss your kids’ goals and encourage them to be realistic about where to apply. But do remember to respect your child’s choices as they are the ones who will spend the next few years at college and in the course they choose.
Discuss your child’s goals - Help your children identify both short term and long-term goals and write down steps and a timeline to achieve the goals. Help them set realistic objectives and dedicate time to achieve them accordingly. Ask them questions such as where they see
themselves five years down the
You should also ask your child how she would like you to support her to achieve her goals - so that you know how much assistance she requires from you. Check in periodically to talk about progress and make adjustments as needed.
listen carefully and
For your child, her choice of college is her first decision as an adult and it can be difficult. Likewise, it can be difficult for you to find the right balance of guiding your child without ignoring her decisions. So, listen to your child and talk about what she likes or dislikes about a particular course or college. Ask questions and identify what she is thinking; accordingly, offer her advice.
Don’t make decisions for your child – Make sure that your children select a course and college based on their individual abilities, interests, and personality.
Try not to pressurise your child to apply to the colleges you want them to attend. Encourage them to apply to a good range of colleges and support your child’s final decision about which college they will attend.
Meet with an education counsellor
Never act as your child's one and only adviser. Team up with a counsellor and follow their lead. Take guidance from the counsellor regarding the information on college admissions, different courses available, and the financial aid processes. This will help you become familiar with the latest courses and different options
Admission into college is your child's initiation into adulthood and at the same time, an important step of parenting. Therefore, familiarise yourself with the college admissions processes so that you can support your child during the course of the process. So, learn about the process and the guidelines of filling
admission forms, etc.
Enrol your child in a coaching class
In case a college requires your child to appear for an admission test or exam, you should search for coaching classes and enrol your child there for proper guidance and assistance. The experienced and qualified faculty will make your children understand and analyse test patterns. Test Prep centres not only teach the curriculum, but also provide relevant exam-oriented suggestions and handouts, which will help your child prepare well for the exam. These classes and teachers will also give you the opprtunity to clarify your doubts.
Let your child lead the process
As a parent, it is critically important that you do not become overly involved in the college admissions process. Your child should always feel that she has a starring role in this important decision.
Choosing a college
Make your children carry out
research and gather information about colleges of interest.
Let them talk to friends,
colleagues, and senior students to hear their points of view - or even search on the Internet. Then, you can together create a ‘wish list’ and focus on other special considerations such as fees, distance from home, college reputation, and placement opportunities. Remember that there are various good colleges. So, do make your child ask this question: “Is this college a good match for me and my needs?” Discussing the following considerations with your child will be beneficial:
- Price: Do not eliminate colleges based on cost alone. Look for colleges that best fit your child's needs.
- Location: Does your child want to explore a new part of the country or be close to home?
- Size: Would your child prefer small classes with individual instruction? Will your child perform well in large classes at a major university, where the activities, culture and social life are more varied?
Select colleges based on your kids’ needs - The type of college your child chooses is a personal decision that is based on her individual needs and talents. When selecting colleges, it’s important that you and your child consider the following questions:
- Why do you want to go to college?
- What do you hope to achieve by going to college?
- Do you have a preference of environment?
- What matters more to you - the course you opt for or the college you join??
Go for the ‘right’
college, not the ‘best’ ONE
Choosing a top-ranked and
highly selective college will not guarantee that there will be a good fit between your child and the college. Pay informed attention to rankings, ratings, and other information
about a college’s prestige, as
these rankings are, at times, just marketing tools designed for mass
The most important and interesting conclusions about a college do not come from PR campaigns; but rather, from personal experience. So, make your child talk to as many people as possible about potential colleges.
Campus visits will help your child learn about the college, students, and the atmosphere. So, schedule visits when students are attending classes and make sure your
child makes the most of each visit. Ask her to take notes and pictures to remember impressions of each
campus. You can even talk to students, professors, admissions officers, campus security officers, and librarians to get information about the college's history, students,
campus life, etc.
Keep a master file
As you visit places and talk to
people, ensure that your child keeps a track of all brochures and pamphlets of different colleges. You should also maintain a file of documents including certificates that are required to be submitted at the time of admission - such as the marksheets, achievement certificates, transfer/migration certificates, character certificates, birth certificate, etc. Keep enough photocopies ready so you don't have to run around in the scorching heat!
Don’t miss deadlines
Deadlines are important and must be met or your child's application will not be considered. Divide up the complicated tasks involved in the college application process. Some tasks are perfectly appropriate for parents, such as finding out about deadlines, arranging for visits, and helping gather information. Help your child keep a detailed calendar of required tasks and due dates of submitting application forms and appearing for the exams.
Be your child’s
The college admission process can be stressful and can put pressure on your relationship with your child. Your child may feel nervous while taking decisions, choosing colleges, or meeting deadlines for college admissions. She might change her mind about career aspirations, academic goals or what she wants in a college. But, it is your duty as a parent to boost her confidence by encouraging and guiding her in an appropriate manner. Try to lighten up when you see that stress is building and ask what you can do to help your child. ‘Normalise’ things by pointing out that it is okay to change their mind during the process of making a big decision. Furthermore, express with your words and actions that you have faith in your child and her ability to make this decision.
Be available to your child
Remember, the admissions process is the time when your child needs your support. Being a parent, you need to check if you are providing her with the right support. So, be aware of some of the basic requirements of the child during this stressful time. As the admission season approaches, just keep your child motivated. Additionally, make sure your child knows she can always come to you to ask for help with anything that is bothering her.
Finally, remember that preparing your children for higher education can be one of the best gifts you can give them. One of the most important things that you can do to help your child’s college career is to encourage reading, especially during the summer months. The more a child reads, the greater is his or her potential for advancement.
Follow these tips and be supportive to your child. Above all don't let your child forget to enjoy the beauty of life, while competing for life.
Best of luck!
About the author
Mrs Meenal Arora is a Post-Graduate in Management from Delhi University’s prestigious Shri Ram College of Commerce and Doctoral Researcher in Education Leadership & Management at the University of Nottingham, UK. She is the Executive Director of the Shemrock & Shemford Group of Schools, which operates over 175 pre-schools and schools across the country and abroad. A well-known children’s author, Mrs Arora has to her credit numerous pre-school books and several research papers. She has also co-produced a very popular collection of children’s audio CDs. Her contributions have been acknowledged by the government, which declared her the ‘Woman Entrepreneur of the Year 2008’, and the PTA of India, which presented her with the Parent Teacher Golden Jubilee National Award for her contribution to the field of 'Parental Participation in School Education'.