Parental involvement throughout the college admissions process is critical. However, it is also important that parents recognize when to step back and allow the student to perform the work while they play a supporting cast. Parent’s are a critical member of the student support team and should consider themselves as a resourceful coach. Even if parents are not an expert on all topics, they can fill a critical partnership and support role to instill confidence in their child as they navigate stressful and complex situations.
The Parent / Student Contract
Consider establishing a clear set of expectations, boundaries and agreements from the start, and stick to those agreements. Be upfront and clear about what you will and will not do. Some common specifics that you may want to consider discussing:
- How will you help them to complete the requirements of the FAFSA?
- Will you provide any financial support or assistance to help pay for their education?
- Will you help complete research on schools, majors and careers?
- Will you provide financial assistance for test preparation or admissions coaching?
- Will you help write admission essays or provide review feedback?
- Will you project manage the tracking and execution of any deadlines?
Remember, while all parents want their children to succeed it is always best to ensure that the student can take the lead and ownership for these critical tasks to the best of their ability. The college admissions process is a great example of how to help teach responsibility and resilience within a family environment.