While many websites, guidance counselors, and college reps will tell you what you should be doing as a parent during the college search, rarely do they share with you what you shouldn’t do….until now.
Here are our 7 Parent Mistakes to Avoid during the College Search:
7. Listing your email and phone number as the main contact. When inquiring with schools online or at college fairs, make sure your student uses their email as the contact, not yours. Your teen needs to be the main point of contact between your household and the admissions office. Plus, schools like Transy, will ask for your parent email address specifically. This lets us send you information better tailored to you as a parent during your student’s application process.
Counselor recommendation: “Since your student will be the main point of contact, make sure they use a professional, simple email address. It can be awkward emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.“
6. Limiting their college options (based on cost, location, etc.). While your alma mater may be awesome, it may not be the best fit for your student. Start with general research. In these initial stages, look past how far it may be from home (we know its tough!) or the college’s “sticker price” (it’s not what you’ll pay) and focus on identifying a list of needs and interests in a future college. This will help narrow their list to a handful of colleges best suited for them. Once they’ve identified some options – it’s time to visit!
5. Being disengaged on tours. Parents are just as guilty for not putting away their cell phones as students are on campus tours. For many, its second nature to answer work emails or take phone calls, but try to refrain! Not seeming engaged can make a poor impression. Make sure your student disconnects from theirs as well.
Counselor recommendation: “Come with a handful of questions. The tour guides and counselors love students and families who are prepared! Here’s 6 tough ones you can use, on us.”
4. Asking potentially sensitive questions in public. If your student has past mental health issues, medical problems, learning disabilities, or may need other types of support, we recommend you ask these questions in the confidence of a staff member. The place you may not want to ask them is during a tour or in front of potential future classmates.
3. Doing all the talking. Does your student want to take a tour? Have them call and schedule it. Do they want to approach a table at a college fair? Push them to take the step forward. Don’t prompt them to share information by saying, “tell Ms. XXXXX about your science project.” And, make sure they’re not the student scrolling through Instagram, lagging at the back of the campus tour. Rather, empower them to ask questions, lead conversations, and be involved. We are not only looking for academically strong students, but students who engaging in meaningful conversations and communicate well with others.
Counselor recommendation: “Though we want students to be the main contact, it is perfectly acceptable for you as a parent to discuss matters about financial aid; that’s an entirely different ball game and highly encouraged!”
2. Using the royal “we.” Unless you plan to also submit an application to attend, all pronouns should indicate that your student is the one leading the application process. Dead giveaways include: “We don’t know what kind of major we are interested in yet,” or “we have a 3.0 GPA and we got a 27 on the ACT.” It’s time to start letting them grow and separating the “we” with “he” and “she” is a great start.
1. Completing their college application for them. One of the most important parts of the college process is teaching them to become independent. And, being independent requires doing work and meeting deadlines. In one year they’ll be expected to manage on their own – owning this process can be their first big step.
Counselor recommendation: “We can tell when a student has completed an application and when a parent has, especially when a parent calls asking how to submit it!”
As you finish up the process, we know reality may kick in along with a little heartache in knowing your student is growing up and heading to college. The transition isn’t just hard on your teen, but you as well!
Once your student is admitted (because we know they’re stellar!) they’ll be invited to start making friends in their own “Class of” group for their incoming class. While your student is getting to they’re getting to know their peers, we invite you to get to know yours! Join the Parents & Families Facebook page and meet other parents of Pioneers. Think of it as your own support group to ask questions and discuss issues.
Plus, we’re always here to help. Contact us anytime.