Taking the Lead in the College Process

Posted by: Website Administrator on 11/22/2012

We understand. Applying to college can be stressful and intimidating. You’re busy with a dozen extracurricular commitments, not to mention schoolwork. And your parents are all too eager to help you out.

The truth is that colleges want to hear from you – the student – and not your parents. They want to know that when you apply to their school it’s because you want to. Parents should be helpful and supportive, but when it comes to communicating with colleges, scheduling visits, and filling out applications, students need to take the lead.

If the thought of taking the lead in your college search is intimidating, remember that you have numerous resources at your disposal to find guidance and advice.

  • Your college counselor is a crucial resource for you in the college application process.  S/he is there to provide information about colleges, help you interpret that information, and match your interests and personality with colleges that are a good fit for you – and, of course, making sure your school forms are sent out. But that is as far as the counselor goes. The actual process of applying, contacting schools about missing materials, and choosing the final group of colleges is up to you.
  • Your local college representative is there to help you. Most colleges and universities divide travel and/or applications according to geographical region. Most likely, the same admissions counselor you met at your local college fair will also be reading your application. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your admissions counselor if you have questions that aren’t answered on the website. If the idea of reaching out makes you nervous, remember – admissions counselors are friendly and approachable, and are happy to hear from you. On the other hand, if you legitimately have nothing to ask, don’t reach out just because you think you should. 
  • Your parents are absolutely allowed to help you, within reason. Parents are great for help with keeping organized, setting a schedule, and arranging the logistics of college trips. You can ask them if an idea for an essay “sounds like you” – but they shouldn’t be telling you what to write in your essays (and certainly not writing them). They can give you the information you need to fill out the Common Application, but you have to fill it out yourself. They can provide suggestions about colleges to look at, but you have to research the schools for yourself. Your parents want you to succeed, so ask them for help when you need it, but remember that you’re the one leading the way.

Applying to college is a major undertaking, and a big responsibility. You’re probably going to have some anxiety about the process, and that’s OK. It’s important to not let your anxiety get in the way of being pro-active and engaged in the college process. You’re the one going to college, after all, so now is the time to step up and take charge. Be sure to rely on your parents, college counselor, and local admissions representatives as resources, but be sure to take the lead in the process.