Many parents get very worked up about college admission forms and essays. This is a good place to step back and let your student take the lead. The bottom line is, if they don’t finish the applications and essays, they won’t be admitted to school.
You may wonder if it’s best for them to take the lead in filling out and sending in their college applications, applying for financial aid, and handling more of the tasks that are required during the college admissions journey. After all, it’s their life, and it can be their responsibility.
We all know parents who are so afraid that their kids will make irrevocable mistakes, they are compelled to run interference for them in practically all aspects of their young lives.
No doubt you’ve heard of parents asserting themselves to an even greater degree by sitting in on job interviews, filling in job applications, badgering employers to give their student raises and promotions.
If parents don’t allow their children to make mistakes and learn from them, the very idea of taking on the college application process can bring about extreme procrastination which I believe is a kind of paralysis. This comment from a client was, to me, refreshing yet surprising. And it shouldn’t have been.
“I just told my 17 year-old son that it is his life and his responsibility to manage his college applications. I will help him if he asks but I’m not going to spend the next year nagging him. He is smart and capable and if the worst thing that happens is a gap year where he has to get a job, then he will get a different kind of education.”
What Parents Could Do
Assuming you are ready to assist, but not manage your students admission applications, here are my practical recommendations:
• Encouraging your student to meet with their school counselor. This year, they will work with the counselor to complete and submit college applications.
• Create a calendar with your student. This should include application deadlines and other important dates.
• Help your student find and apply for scholarships. This is one item on the list where earlier is better. Though I don’t recommend spending a lot of time searching for private scholarships, the odds of winning one are better if it’s local. Your student can find out about local scholarship opportunities from their school counselor.
• Help your student prepare for standardized tests. Even though COVID-19 has changed test policies, students who can take the SAT or ACT and do well will have an edge over students who don’t submit scores. This is especially important because merit scholarships are often awarded based on test scores and GPA.
• Apply for financial aid. This is too important to hand over to your student! Find out from each college the requirements and deadline to submit financial aid forms such as the FAFSA and CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE, if required.
Parents can provide guidance and support, help students keep track of application deadlines, and look for scholarships.
All parents – irrespective of their financial situation and ability to pay for college – should complete the financial aid forms! Contact me at email@example.com or 732.502.9700 to learn why that is true as well as how I can assist you with this process and help ensure a good outcome with this vitally important piece of the college-affordability puzzle.
A new phenomenon is occurring among some divorced and separated parents: They continue to live in the same home. This can present a problem when applying for financial aid.
When divorced, separated parents, or unmarried parents do not live together, the parent the student spends more than 50% of their time with is the custodial parent. For financial aid purposes, the custodial parent will more than likely have the responsibility of completing financial aid forms with their information. That is unless the non-custodial parent provides more than 50% of the student’s material support to the custodial parent.
But if the parents are legally separated or divorced and living under the same roof, then both parents’ income and assets will be included when applying for financial aid. This could increase the student’s expected family contribution unnecessarily.
There are more trapdoors and landmines than ever before. Do everything you can to avoid mistakes, by preparing now for the financial aid process.