Recently Campus Bound hosted a Parent Panel webinar where parents who have gone through the college process before can offer advice and support to parents about to tackle it for the first time. It was a huge success! (More on our free webinars here) In this blog we will outline some of the key takeaways.
- Plan for the amount of time and effort this process requires. The college admissions process involves a lot of work — students need to devote as much time to researching and visiting colleges, working on applications and essays, and organizing their other application requirements as they spend on a class at school. Plan for the time commitment involved, and find out where there may be a “pinch point” or “crunch time” for your student based on the alignment of your student’s schedule and the college search and application timeline.
- Think of SAT/ACT testing like a sport and test prep like an athletic coach. Regardless of natural ability, students do better on tests when they’ve had preparation, just as people do better in sports if they’ve had coaching. To the extent that your budget and availability allow, consider a test preparation plan that works for your family, be it tutoring, classes, or self-preparation. Many schools no longer require SAT/ACT scores, but taking the SAT or ACT allows students to consider schools where tests are required if they become desirable at some point in the student’s admissions process.
- Have a discussion with your student about the role finances will play in the college process as early as possible. Finances are different for every family, of course, but all families agreed that being open with students early in the process about costs, affordability, budgets, and value is important in shaping a college list that fits your family’s needs.
- Be prepared to submit applications in time for early deadlines, even if your student isn’t (yet) planning to apply under any early deadlines. Students should prepare applications and essays as if they were applying under an early deadline, in case they decide late in the process that an early deadline appeals to them. Students grow and change over the course of the admissions process — being prepared allows them to change their minds and adapt their application plan as needed.
- You can’t control everything in this process, so do your best where you can, and recognize that results are unpredictable. Invest time and effort in your search and applications, then trust your list and trust the process. Recognize that some students will be lucky in their admissions decisions and others may be unlucky — that’s about the process, not about the student. Do your best to ignore the noise and focus on what is best for your student — fit is more important than the eventual name on the sweatshirt.