If you want a good chuckle about parents overstepping their boundaries, check out http://www.collegeconfidential.com, a great college resource with blogs and chats.
On a thread about helicopter parents, one mom volunteered that her mother-in-law opened her husband’s letter from Harvard and when she saw that he had been accepted, she threw it away! Seriously, she tossed the letter and never told her son. This was a while ago, before computers, and he assumed that no communication from Harvard meant that he wasn’t accepted, so he matriculated at another college. The mom never told her son what she had done, and he just found out 15 years ago from his sister. The mom’s reaction was, “Oh, I just love you so much that I didn’t want you to be that far away.”
With that in mind, here are some parental don’ts:
Don’t write their essays. Don’t over-edit their essays and turn them into something that you think the admissions office wants to read, you’re probably wrong.
Don’t talk too much on the campus visit. Keep your questions to a minimum or ask your child to ask your questions. Don’t introduce your child to admissions people, allow them to take the lead and introduce you.
Don’t ever refer to this as being “our” college admissions process. The first slip-up for parents is when you hear them say “we’re applying” or “we interviewed,” etc. This is the student’s process, their visit, their application, their essay and their interview.
Don’t limit your student’s choices based exclusively on price. According to recent research by Princeton Review, only 20 percent of the 17 million college students pay the entire cost of their college education. That means 80 percent of students are receiving some form of financial aid; merit-based, need-based, grants, work-study and loans. Most of this aid (80 percent to 85 percent) comes directly from the colleges and universities.
Students need to rise to the occasion and take ownership of the process. Parents who shoulder too much of the responsibility reduce their child’s self-confidence. Turning over the reins earlier in the process and empowering your child, while often stressful, teaches everyone a multitude of lessons.
Lee Bierer is an independent college adviser based in Charlotte, N.C. For more information, visit http://www.collegeadmissionsstrategies.com.
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- Colleges’ High Cost Threatens Nation’s Future (timesoftexas.com)
- Making Colleges Take Notice: 3 Things You Should Know (education.com)
- College Admissions: Between Applications and Acceptances (education.com)