Nagging about college applications: a parent’s to-do list
I’m nagging — it must be college application time again.
I thought that it would be easier the second time around. With son #2, I expected to be able to put Plan A into effect. You know, the plan where we work on college application essays all summer and have them signed, sealed and delivered by Labor Day. Son #1 didn’t complete his college applications until the last possible deadline. I was a nervous wreck! I thought that I had learned enough in the six years since then. However, summer jobs, band camps (plural), and practice all interfered with our best-made plans. Anticipate similar experiences if you have an athlete or student who commits massive amounts of time to practice, work, or volunteer activities each summer. How could I tell him NOT to work? He had the perfect excuse: he saved his money for college! In spite of his schedule, we were able to make some progress. (This is where nagging becomes helpful.) While he completed essays this summer, he narrowed his choices to four schools and selected the three teachers he wanted to write his recommendations.
- Determine which CLASSROOM teachers can write the best recommendation. These should be teachers who truly know your child. Let’s face it; your child could be completing applications during the first few months of the year, too soon for senior year teachers to evaluate your students’ work ethic. If your student is planning on majoring in a performing or visual art, or sports-related fields, these teachers and coaches could be the best choice for a recommendation. Plan to ask the teacher at least two weeks ahead of the deadline; supply the teacher with all required forms and a stamped envelope addressed to the college. Let the teacher know if you would like him/her to do recommendations for multiple colleges so he/she can retain the recommendation on a computer and tailor it to each university’s requirements.
- Have your child make an appointment with the guidance counselor. Most applications require both a transcript from the school and a recommendation by the guidance counselor. The more selective the school, the more important this recommendation can be. If the department does not usually meet with each junior for a “recommendation interview” it would be helpful for your student to make such an appointment. With hundreds of students under their wing, most counselors cannot be experts on each child and his, or her, accomplishments. Son #1 had FOUR DIFFERENT counselors in four years; his senior year counselor didn’t know him at all! Complete the forms to have transcripts sent to each college and pay the fee, (usually $2 each) to cover the cost of copying and postage.
- Create a resume of activities. Your child may have already done so as an assignment for English class. Unlike a work-related resume, this resume lists school activities, honors, offices held and volunteer work as well as work experience. It will be an invaluable source of information for applications for admission, for scholarships and for honorary organizations, such as National Honor Society.
- Start early and keep copies! Most colleges allow students to apply online. One college my son applied to waived the application fee for online applications, a savings of $45. He completed their application first (since no essay was required) and printed a copy. He saved time using this application’s information–classes taken, test scores, GPA when completing other applications. 300 colleges now use the Common Application; students complete one application online and list the schools who should receive it. There is usually an additional essay or short form to complete for each school.
- Keep a record of everything! This might involve more than nagging as you may need to create the organizational plan. One of my son’s colleges informed him that they could not make a decision; they hadn’t received the forms from his counselor. He dug up the signed receipt from his transcript and took it to the counselor. (Information was re-sent and he was admitted.)
Now you shift gears to waiting: waiting for the letters to come in with offers of admission. But don’t stop nagging yet– this is the perfect time to nag your student about applying for scholarships!
Applications and Admissions
- Choosing Colleges Home
- College Acceptance Letters
- College Admissions Advice
- Competitive College Applications
- Considering the Cost of College in the Admissions Decision
- Different Children Take Different Approaches to the College Application Process
- Early Decision Applications
- Leadership Development and College Applications
- Making the transition from high school to college
- Nagging About College Applications
- Organizing the Application Process
- Your Academic Resume