College application essays can be stressful for high school students, who already have busy academic schedules and feel pressure to create the perfect essay. But, they can also be stressful for parents, who may feel like they have to steer the ship in the right direction and keep on top of all the various deadlines. Getting started on the college application process can be daunting, but if parents can encourage their students and help with time management and deadlines, the whole family can make it through the process gracefully.
In the video below, Louise Williams, owner and consultant at Gateways to College, LLC, provides tips for parents. She talks about how parents can strike a balance between nagging their child to finish their applications and encouraging them to complete the work in their own time and in their own way.
Williams says that when approaching application season, parents of high school seniors should:
- Brainstorm with their student. Instead of telling them what they should write their essay about, parents should encourage them to think about key moments in their lives. For example, a time when their child overcame a challenge.
- Consider involving a third party. Bringing a counselor or teacher into the conversation can help a student hear an objective voice, which might be more effective than if the same message came from a parent.
- Take advantage of summer break to get the ball rolling. This is a great time to compile a working list of colleges, and start brainstorming for the essay portion of the applications. Once senior year starts, there will be plenty of other obligations competing for time, so using the summer to get ahead of the game will be very helpful in the fall.
- Know that you as a parent play an important role in the college application process. Parents can encourage their students and also keep them mindful of deadlines. The trickiest part is to not nag the student to work on applications, but to let them move at their own pace.
If parents can balance being involved in the application process with letting students write essays in their own unique voices, there’s a good chance everyone will come out of the process unscathed.