We all want our children to achieve their hopes and dreams and will try to do everything within our power to help them succeed. This means that the college application process can be just as stressful for parents as it can be for the children, especially if it is their first go around. If you’re a parent looking for some tips to make this process a little easier, take a look at these helpful hints for helping your child apply to college:

  1. Facilitate open communication between you and your child. It can be an awkward moment when you kid announces that they got accepted to a college that you didn’t even know they applied to. Avoid situations like this by openly communicating with your child. Let them know that you are there to support them through this process, and in order to do that, there needs to be open dialogue. Ask them which colleges they are applying to and what ways you can help them. Being in the loop from the getgo will also allow you ample time to do your own research that will help your child make an informed decision when the time comes.
  2. Help them study for standardized tests. Aiming for a good score on the SAT? Having a reliable study buddy may make preparing for the big test day a little easier. Go over flashcards with them or hold practice tests that will mimic the testing conditions that day. At the very least, have them explain to you what they are learning. Studies show that teaching something is one of the best ways to learn and commit knowledge to memory.
  3. Stay on top of deadlines. The world doesn’t stop when your child begins the application process. Due dates for college applications and scholarships are often piled on top of deadlines for high school assignments and existing commitments, making this time in a student’s life especially stressful. Take some of the load off by helping your teen create a calendar that lists all of the deadlines and due dates clearly so there is no confusion. If you notice a deadline approaching, remind your child about it or ask how that particular task is coming along.
  4. Apply for scholarships often and early. Don’t wait until your child starts college to begin looking for scholarships. Once your child enters their senior year of high school, start browsing the internet for scholarship opportunities and financial aid that they’ll qualify for. There are numerous free resources and databases out there with lists and requirements for various scholarships. If you can’t find what you’re looking for online, consider contacting your child’s guidance counselor for more resources. You’ll find scholarship applications open at all points of the year, so it’s always good to check back often and keep your eyes peeled.

    You’ll also want to make sure that you fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as it becomes available (usually early October). No matter what college your child decides to attend, the school will likely recommend applying for federal aid with this form. And not only does the government utilize this form, but colleges, universities, and other organizations use it to determine who receives their need-based financial aid.

  5. Proofread! While your student should write their essays and personal statements by themselves, you can offer assistance by proofreading anything that they write. Essays filled with careless grammatical and spelling errors reflect poorly upon students when it comes to college admissions. Having an extra set of eyes on the paper will help ensure they are using the right there, they’re, and theirs.
  6. Schedule college visits and make a mini-vacation out of it. Visiting colleges that your child is seriously interested in can have a major influence on their final decision. Sometimes being on campus allows students to feel that “click” that they just don’t get by reading information online. It also allows parents to voice their questions and concerns to people who can give them definite answers about each school. If you’re able, making a mini-vacation out of your trip might help in relieving some of that senior year stress. We’re not necessarily talking about trips to Disneyland, but try to check out a smaller local attraction while you’re there. This will also allow you to get a feel for the city that your kid might call home for the next four years.
  7. Never stop encouraging them. There’s going to be ups and downs throughout this time. Your child may face rejection from their top choice university or not achieve a score that they tried so hard to get on a test. Let them know that it isn’t the end of the world, and that there is still a limitless amount of possibilities for their future. Celebrate with them in their triumphs, and let them know that they’ll have your support in all of their future endeavors.