Involving Your Parents in the College Search Process

Getting ready for the next big step of life after high school can be stressful. Preparing for college? In addition to useful resources like your school counselor, college fairs, university websites, and online forums, don’t forget to include your parents in the process!

We aren’t suggesting you ask your parents to write your essays for you or call the admissions office repeatedly, but there are plenty of things they can do to actively stay involved in the college search process without hovering too much.

Seeing College Campuses

Having your parents tour college campuses with you can be a great way to not only bond before you take off, but also help relieve the anxiety about the transition on both ends. Parents can provide perspective on what they see at each campus and give insight on whether they think it will be a proper fit for you. Sometimes, it’s not easy to see things clearly in an unbiased way if you already have your heart and mind set to something. You’ll be glad you took your parents along for the ride when they notice things you may have missed!

Reviewing the Application & Essay

While you are responsible for filling out the college applications and writing essays, your parents can be there to help double-check your work and provide constructive criticism on how you can improve before you submit everything. Having another set of eyes can make a difference in ensuring that all forms are filled out correctly, deadlines aren’t missed, and more. While you’re busy with the application, mom and dad can even help lessen your load by getting a head start on searching for potential scholarships and grants you can apply for to afford college.

Figuring Out Finances

College is expensive. Whether you’ll be taking out loans and relying on financial aid to fund your higher education or having your parents pay for it, or a mix of both, finances is an important topic to be discussed. It’s a good idea to go over budget with your parents so that you can come up with a realistic financial plan. You can never get started on this too early.

Remember not to let the “sticker price” of a school deter you from applying for it. These days, there are many different forms of financial aid that can help make college much more affordable. Together, you and your parents can find the ones you’re eligible for and stack them up!

Setting Geographical Restrictions

Not every family will have geographical restrictions when it comes to college, but it’s a good idea to discuss this topic during the college search process. Just because you have your heart set on a school far away, doesn’t mean that it’ll be the best fit. Your parents have moved and traveled in their lifetime more than you have, so it would be wise to use them as a resource for advice on this subject. For example, they can give you a good idea of the hidden costs associated with living far away.

It’s always best to be close to family if you can, so a school a few hours away may be the better choice. At the end of the day, you want to take your relationship with your family and parents into consideration. Many students get homesick during their freshman year living on campus and not knowing many people. Having family nearby helps a lot in this scenario.

Talking About College

Going to college is a big transition for everyone at home! Keep your parents in the loop by sharing with them what you’re thinking about majoring in, what classes you look forward to taking, social organizations you hope to join, and your top three colleges. Ask for input and advice, and let them know you appreciate their counsel.

Don’t be afraid to ask your parents about their college experience if they pursued an undergraduate degree. Their answers may help you determine the qualities you need in a college, what activities you wish to partake in, and what opportunities you want to make sure you don’t miss. Schools and the college experience may be totally different now than when your parents attended, but having some insight is better than none.

Having open communication with your parents about college fosters a healthy family bond. It’ll not only make you feel more comfortable about the transition, but also reassure your parents that you have goals and bigger things ahead!