This guest post is by: Katie Layendecker is a content developer at OpenSesame, where she writes about technology and learning. Katie is a sophomore at Davidson College, where she plans to major in gender studies. When she’s not writing, she enjoys attending her college’s sporting events, walking her dogs, and rowing.
Applying to college was one of the most stressful times in my life. You are bombarded with new experiences, both positive and negative. At moments, it was incredibly trying, but with a lot of focus and determination, I survived. I now look back at my college application process as something that makes me very proud. A huge part of my pride derives from knowing that I did my application on my own, with my parents as supporters, not co-authors. This not only taught me responsibility, but also gave colleges a very clear picture of who I was, not who my parents were.
Keep in mind that parents tend to get caught up in college rankings, pushing their teenagers to apply to schools they do not like. As you begin this process, remember that fit and not rankings matters most. Your child is going to have the best college experience if she or he goes to a school they love.
That being said, parents should definitely be active in the college application process. There are constructive and helpful ways you can enhance your child’s college application. The biggest thing you can do to help your teenager is to give them the right skill set for effectively applying to college. Teens who can manage their time well and can represent themselves well in various situations have a huge advantage when applying to college.
Here are some skills that your teenagers should have before starting their application process:
- Write Proper Emails: It is essential that teenagers know how to clearly articulate their thoughts formally and politely when emailing college admissions officers. Colleges will only have a limited number of interactions with each applicant. Making each conversation as positive as possible could not be more important. Here is a great guide on how to use proper email etiquette.
- Know How to Talk on the Phone: As mentioned above, each of your teen’s limited interactions with college admissions officers should be as positive as possible. This is especially true when talking over the phone, which can often be uncomfortable. I spent fifteen minutes discussing my application with the admissions officer for my region. Because of all the times that my parents had forced me to use and answer the phone, I was able to comfortably and easily talk with her. Only after that incident did I truly appreciate the time my parents took to ensure that I understood how to hold professional conversations over the phone. This telephone etiquette post has some great tips.
- Interview Well: The interview is usually the only time your teenager will be able to interact face to face with a college admissions officer. In this important opportunity, it is crucial your teen is able to conduct him or herself professionally and clearly articulate who they are. Check out this making the right impression course, which can help your teen learn the consequences of her or his actions and words in professional conversations.
- Manage Time Effectively: The application process is overwhelming just because of the amount of work it takes. I applied to eight schools, which is nothing to the number of schools some of my friends applied to. The Common Application makes it easier, but supplements can still take a long time. It is very important that teenagers start their applications early and continue to periodically work on them throughout their first semester. In order to this well, teens must have great time management skills. The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey has some great tips on how to increase productivity through time management. A short course, which describes the major points of the chapter can be found here.
In conclusion, you have a great opportunity to help your teen through a very stressful time in her or his life. You have knowledge and skills that can greatly help them successfully survive the college application process. However, do not mistake taking control of their process for helping.