Is Your Teen Shutting You Out of the College Application Process?
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As a parent, you’ve probably dealt with your teenager being closed off on more than one occasion. At any given time, she might be unwilling to keep you apprised of her plans. With the college application process, the stakes are that much higher. You need to know what’s going on; her future is on the line, after all. Here are ways to step in and stay involved without making your teen feel micromanaged.
Offer to Be an Accountability Partner
While applying to college is mainly your child’s responsibility, you can help ease the burden by offering to share some of the load. Your child might be better incentivized if you offer to be her accountability partner. That way, rather than feeling beholden to an elusive admissions committee, she’ll feel like she’s doing the work for both of you. You can help her stay organized and keep her on track.
Additionally, you can serve as a source of calm and support, since this is a stressful time for your teenager. For more tips, check out Parents: Helping Your Child Through College Applications.
Schedule “Real-World” Talk Time
Arrange occasional check-ins to make sure your teen is on track. You might create a schedule or monthly to-do list and schedule in times to check in routinely, so it doesn’t seem like you’re springing it on her.
During these conversations, discuss keeping up with schoolwork, college application goals, and college lists. The topics will, of course, vary depending on where she is in the process.
You should also keep an eye on her stress level. You might want to have more check-ins if it seems like she’s not handling the stress well or neglecting other areas of her life, such as health and wellness.
Don’t bribe your child to keep you involved, but do provide incentive and motivation for her to do well. Discuss intrinsic rewards for hard work—getting into her target college and meeting her goals.
Also, motivate your teen to keep you informed and involved. For instance, when she reaches an important milestone or completes a big part of her application, you might cook her favorite dinner. Continue to promote balance and health and wellness as well.
Get Outside Support
You’re always your child’s coach, but if she wants you to be more of a supporting character, you might want to invest in outside help.
A near-peer mentor recently went through the college process and knows the ins and outs of it. She can guide your child through applications and balancing applying to college with other aspects of her life. Even if you use a mentor, doesn’t mean you can’t be involved in the process, too. Think of your child’s mentor as an extra set of eyes and ears.
For tips on finding a mentor, check out What to Look for in a High School Mentoring Program.
Don’t Take It Personally…But Do Take Action
If your child is keeping her choices and activities close to the vest, remember that it’s nothing personal; she might be stressed and overwhelmed, wants to take responsibility, or is just a private person. Still, it’s your job to stay involved; you’re still her mom or dad, after all. Make sure to keep a running dialogue, and remember that facilitating trust can keep the process running smoothly.
For more tips on guiding your teen through college applications, read:
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