Preparing for College

A Parent's Role in College Admissions

Parents, how involved should you be in your child's college admissions process? I've known parents who wanted to sit next to their child during the admissions interview. I kid you not. I've also dealt with parents who have used the dreaded "we" in their exchanges with me. "We have come up with 15 colleges that we think are a good match." "We thought that Penn State was too big." "We're trying to come up some good essay topics." Hmm.

Well then, just what should a parent's role be during the college admissions process? My parents were supportive, but maintained a respectful distance. My father took a day off work and drove me the hundred miles or so for my one and only campus visit and interview. We discussed our impressions on the way home and then I handled the application details myself. One thing that my parents weren't were helicopters. I appreciated that because as a young, dedicated Idealist, I had my own preferences about how to handle certain things, especially my college application process. My folks were certainly available for help when I needed them, but they didn't force themselves onto my working style. Thus, I was able to experience and develop some independent thinking and decision making at a critical developmental stage of my life.

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