College admissions season is challenging. But you are the exact parent your child needs. Say that to yourself: I am the exact parent my child needs. It’s true! You are here in your child’s life during this time for a reason, and with grace, patience, and humor, this can be a rich time of learning for your child and of relationship-building for your family. Here’s our take on how you can be there for your almost-adult child during the college admissions journey.
1. Take time
Nothing beats quality time, conversation, and building toward an adult-to-adult relationship. You’re not the driver at this point. You’re part of the GPS. Trust and communication are key in this phase of your child’s life, and it’s never too early or too late to work on your personal relationship. If trouble does arise, or an academic fire needs putting out, keeping quality time separate from your child’s performance will make your presence during stressful times more capable of being received in a healthy, low-stress manner.
2. Give space
The hands-on help you offer your child will differ from family to family. But it needs to be less than you would have offered a year ago. It’s hard! But consider how much space your child will have in just a year or two when he is away from home completely and make the decision to help your child prepare for that freedom now. Give your child maximum possible space and freedom at home — where circumstances can still be mitigated, and parental guidance is still available. Your child will thank you later. Find your role, and then step back.
3. Get organized
Get informed about what the college admissions process looks like, and then sit down with your child and make a timeline, a chart, or a Google sheet to help you both stay in the know. Don’t push timelines and tasks onto your child. Rather, organize all the information you need to share, such as financial data and possible college visits so that the family’s on the same page, and there aren’t last-minute surprises. Your goal is for your parental help to lower the stress level, not raise it.
4. Make food
If you have ever been surprised with an amazing meal or a favorite snack, even a cup of hot tea, in the middle of a hard day, you know exactly how great it feels and how it can even boost your motivation. Why? Because it made you feel human, reminded you that you were more than your task, and made you feel loved. When a hard task stays in perspective and we know we’re supported, we do better. Yummy treats are a great way to encourage your son or daughter during a tough streak.
5. Share wisdom
What this doesn’t mean is a fountain of unsolicited advice, no matter how kindly meant! Advice is great, but it’s even better if you make clear that you’re available and simply wait to be asked. Or ask if you can share before you launch in. As your child navigates this season, there is so much discovery and new freedom to enjoy. He or she will benefit from your wisdom, it just also needs to be wisely given. And don’t limit sharing your wisdom to academics or even words. This is a great time to learn life skills, like managing a checking account, doing laundry, brewing coffee, or cooking. Help your child want to know more from you.
6. Be curious
Where is my child in the application process? What about deadlines? Are there any fees of which I need to be aware? Try to remain patient and lowkey as you inquire. Cultivate a habit of positive curiosity. And be curious about other things: What does your child enjoy reading or watching? What does he or she love about particular colleges? How are his or her friends doing? Ask instead of demand. Express an open attitude to your child’s college and academic choices during this time. Even if you disagree, stay curious about your child’s perspective.
7. Allow mistakes
If you’ve done your part, it’s sometimes best to let your child fail and have to recover from a poor choice. This is especially helpful as students approach college. They benefit immensely from real choices, real consequences, and free decision-making. More than your advice or your help, your child needs you. Your presence and moral support strengthen your child’s confidence and your relationship. This will grow increasingly true as time passes. Sheltering your child from mistakes can have a negative impact in the long run
8. Have fun
Make some good memories during this time. Go for last-minute or surprise outings. Inject humor into stressful situations when appropriate. Turn college visits into vacations. Loosen up. Be someone your child wants to come to, and make home a place to retreat to and enjoy, not avoid.
9. Hire help
You can’t do everything. And sometimes the Internet, great planning, and spreadsheets can’t do everything either. If your child needs extra academic support, counseling, tutoring, or test preparation, consider a service that’s going to keep your child’s goals as well as his or her wellness in mind. That’s exactly what we do at KD College Prep. We’ve seen the choice to hire help prove worthwhile.
10. Guide toward community
Your child needs people outside the family circle too. It takes the pressure off of you to be the be-all end-all of your child’s development, it enriches your child’s life, and by extension enriches your family. Neighbors, teachers, friends, co-workers, coaches, mentors, performance groups, churches, and healthy relationships with significant others can all provide excellent outlets for your child to process life, have fun, and build experience.
Hopefully, this helps you get an idea of how you fit into the scheme of things during college admissions season. As a parent, you have an irreplaceable role in your child’s life. But that role is changing as your child matures. If you can change with it, you’ve got a head start on being just the support that your child needs.
At KD College Prep, we raise test scores with just the mix of support and challenge your high school student needs. We believe in teaching successful habits that pay off within the classroom and outside it. Call us today and explore our options.