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Category: Application Work

Advice for Parents During the College Admissions Process

The Vow for Parents: I will remember that my child’s college experience begins with this process of applying, and will be supportive but will also let them take charge.

College admissions are stressful for everyone involved. The applicant of course but also, teachers, counselors and especially parents. So since its holiday time (and deadline time is approaching) we feel there is an immediate need to talk about the role of parents in college admissions.

1) Don’t take charge:

In many cases, college admissions will be the first time that your child is taking the lead on planning their own future by making mature, responsible decisions that will have an impact on their whole lives. They may be 18 years old, and talking about their future, but we recognize its difficult to think of them older than 18 months sometimes.

Recognize that this process is difficult but is also a learning experience for your child. They learn to plan, to make mistakes and to grow from them, all skills that are essential to their success in college.

Parents accompanied their children at their kindergarten interview but parents should not be attending their college admissions interview. Your child is going to college thousands of miles away, maybe in another country, you can let them go to an interview in the same city alone without accompanying therm. And it’s not just the interview, don’t write emails to admissions officers on their behalf and certainly don’t write essays.

Failing now, when they have a support system of family and mentors, is safer than failing later, so let them stumble, don’t take over the process. A good role may be stepping up as their assistant, helping them track dates on a calendar, organize their papers and reminding them about the big milestones coming up.

2) Talk to them, but also listen:

One of the best ways you can support your child is by communicating! So, set up a time to chat about college but don’t plague them about it every day. Don’t let college take over every conversation because you may overwhelm them and end up sabotaging them in the process.

You can help. In fact, you SHOULD help, you know your child best. You can get excited for them but when you drop them off at the college or at the airport, they will be the one making friends, taking classes, and growing up. Right now, this may be the best chance to listen.

Remember that your child is as stressed, if not more, as you are about college admissions. Choose a day and time every week to check in with them but spend the rest of week listening to what stresses them. Beyond those weekly discussions, you should listen to their concerns. But your own questions and concerns should be saved for your weekly check-in (and around deadlines). Remember, too much advice can be overwhelming.

3) Don’t compare

Every parent knows how amazing and gifted their child is. And as a parent, you want every person to know that. For that reason, we see parents fall prey to the comparing their children to others.

Don’t compare your child to Mrs. Sharma’s son Rahul who went to Harvard and get caught up in an arm’s race. Each college is unique and just because you haven’t heard of it, doesn’t mean it isn’t good for your child. You brought up your children with different values than Mrs. Sharma, each decision you made is slightly different, so why not let the college also be different instead of copying someone else? Help them find the place where they can make the most of their opportunities.

Which also means, don’t try to push your way into getting your child preferential treatment during the college admissions process. More times than not, this tends to backfire. Admissions committees do not appreciate anyone who tries to take advantage of the system, and they also frown upon parents who come across as “helicopter parents” because that often means the child isn’t ready for college. Instead, let your child, be a child while they are going through this difficult time. Help them relax so that they can focus when they need to. But more than anything, remember, it’s their college decision. Be your supportive self but let them take charge.

Stay organized during College Admissions: What we can learn from Steve Jobs’ uniform

Black turtleneck, blue jeans, New Balance sneakers. Also known as the Steve Jobs uniform or that costume you make for yourself when you don’t plan ahead of the Halloween party you are attending.

People have written about Steve Jobs’s uniform and how experts say that it brought productivity and efficiency to his life. But we know that most students in India wear uniforms to school so this isn’t an article about how to dress but rather about why consistency is good and how that is important to this vital time in your college admissions process.

Everyone wants to be productive but no one more than a student applying to colleges in December, torn between studying for school and exams and completing applications for the next step of his life. One way to increase productivity? Simplify your decision making process!

It’s said the average person makes 35,000 decisions every day. That in itself is exhausting so why not simplify your life the way successful people like Steve Jobs simplified theirs. Jobs said “The most precious thing that we all have with us is time.” While Jobs wore the same thing every day, we believe in being organized and schedules is how we do it.

Why stay organized?

1. You’ll waste less time.

As you prepare to apply to colleges, you might feel a bit like a professional juggler, holding up a dozen balls in the air with one hand as you sign up for the AP tests with the other. There is a  lot to do and it seems like it all hits at once.

When every hour gets you closer to the deadline, the urge to procrastinate and not think about work feels just so appealing. Stop yourself from playing that extra hour of Fortnite by taking away the decision. Instead of spending 5 or 10 minutes figuring out what to do, look at the calendar and stick to the plan.

2. You’ll save brainpower.

Routines are essential for focusing your decision-making energy. You can’t keep getting distracted. The plan gets you one step closer to avoiding the distraction. You can channel all that decision-making power directly into planning for your future.

Plus applying to college is different from other activities. This is about your future (as your parents and teachers remind you at every minute) so the stakes are high. And you have to apply while doing well at school, your extracurriculars and bonding with your friends in your last year of school.

So what do you organize?

There are dozens of articles out there talking about how you can stay organized and each person has their own way. Whether its a diary with all your notes or a color coded google calendar we aren’t here to prescribe”how,” but we definitely recommend the “what” you need to organize.

1. Schoolwork

We say it over and over again, the most important thing for college admissions are academics. You are going to college to study, so colleges, whether in India or abroad, care about your grades since they are an indicator of academic success. So first of all, organize how you study.

Make a daily calendar for subjects you need to review, marking note of assignments and exams, adding time for reviews of subjects for end-of-school exams (CBSE, ISC or IB).

2. College Applications

You would think this would be first on our list, but really, academics are important. Then is getting the application in on time. Make sure you work toward clear deadlines. Give yourself buffer time because life always inserts itself when you least expect it. Do NOT submit your application nine minutes and fourteen seconds before the deadline. Do not do it. Do not put yourself in a position where that is what you will have to do, because it is nerve wracking and horrible and you will feel very unpleasant for hours afterwards and get yelled at by your parents. Just don’t do it.

3. Letters of Recommendations and Financial Papers

College Applications are more complicated than forms and essays you need to complete yourself. Even if you can complete something in the nick of time, people around you might not. Your teachers need to submit recommendations, your parents need to complete financial papers. Make sure to organize those.

4. Family and friends

It’s the last year of school. You’ll be leaving home to spend the majority of your year focusing on college soon. Time spent with family and friends is vital. Steve Jobs spent his last weeks talking about time spent with family. “That was one of the things that came out most clearly from this whole experience [with cancer]. I realized that I love my life. I really do. I’ve got the greatest family in the world, and I’ve got my work.” You have the greatest family and friends. Be organized in making time for them. By organizing your time you won’t experience guilt when you spend time with them and at the same time, you won’t lose out either.

So as we move into 2019, figure out your version of the Steve Jobs uniform and get ready to take on the world around you.