With technology at our fingertips, it’s tough to filter through what is smart advice for parents of high school students and what is not. One thing is for sure, getting a little insight from a fellow parent and expert in the field may help you become more confident in starting this college process with your students – and maybe a little smarter on the side.
As I listen to the concerns of parents in the community, my own friends starting the journey, and the messages heard and learned from my colleagues working with families just like yours all across the country, I’ve determined a few important things to consider:
Narrow the Noise
When it comes to preparing for your student’s journey to college, the noise is loud. A million voices are saying this, that, and the other about why, where, and what you should do. Hearing this noise is a tough place to be. Listening to these voices from friends, family, websites, rankings, and news can be overwhelming. It’s one thing to ask Alexa for today’s weather, sports scores, the best album in the ’80s, or where to find the prettiest beach in the world. But she may not be the best resource for finding the college that makes the most sense for your son or daughter.
We recommend finding a trusted source, an actual person like those with professional membership in the Independent Educational Consultants Association and/or Certified Educational Planners. Trusted sources like these provide opportunities for parents to search for pre-qualified, pre-vetted, experienced college planners nearest
Not only is it important to choose a trusted source for information on the college admissions process, but it’s also very important to choose a list of colleges for the best reasons.
Knowing your major in college before you graduate from high school may be a difficult task for many given their uncertainty with careers and how they relate to college.
Be sure to help your student become more self-aware through interest inventories such as the Strong Interest Inventory®. Identifying areas of interest and recognizing the role they play in a career choice is fascinating at best. Did you know about careers held by people of your gender and similar interest, and they are incredibly happy? Studies have shown that people who are satisfied in their career choice and share similar interests with others could be an excellent indicator of success and satisfaction should they find themselves in that same or similar career. That’s what the Strong Interest Inventory will do for you.
Keep the Student Central
The journey to college can sometimes be overshadowed by a parent’s initiatives — with good intentions. Keeping the student center in the process builds responsibility and good judgment. Whether it’s writing the college essays or completing the application, students should be kept front-and-center in the process. They should own it, and every click of the keyboard and stroke of the pen should belong to them.
As parents, I’m the first to say we all want to see our children succeed in all they do. Finding and applying to the right college is no exception. So, with that in mind, encourage them every step of the way — just don’t do it for them.
By keeping the student in the “driver’s seat,” students find their voice in the process. This single effort to keep them central will allow them to better identify with who they are and recognize when a college makes sense for them.
Enjoy the Process
It’s easy to get caught up in the “hype,” excitement, worry, and frustration of the college admissions process. Addressing questions like when to start, where to look, how to know, and what to look for are central to the process. It’s easy to get hyper-focused on these questions and driven like Indiana Jones on a quest for answers. But, this flood of information makes for a frustrating process — definitely no fun! The powers-that-be have not made it very easy for anyone.
Students and parents should take time to enjoy the process from start to finish. There will always be twists and turns along the way, but there’s a crucial education that may inadvertently miss if eyes are looking in the wrong direction for the correct answers.
Staying active in activities, Friday night football games, and maintaining good grades while completing college applications can quickly take the fun out of the journey. But, these are exciting times, and preparing for the next chapter of life is nothing to get frustrated over. When life starts to feel more like lemons, take a moment to remember those things that mean the most. What do you enjoy doing the most? Have a favorite book or activity? Do you find the best version of yourself while volunteering? When your student starts to feel overwhelmed, have them step back and reflect on these basics. This process is supposed to be fun — days filled with self-discovery and building tomorrow. Have fun with it!
If you would like to talk more about the college journey for your student, schedule your FREE consultation instantly here!