How to Include Parents in Your College Search
By junior year, most students will have begun to think about college. Although most of the college application process falls on students, in many cases, parents play a significant role. It's important to include your parents in the college application process without allowing them too much say. Below are some considerations to keep in mind as you begin having college conversations with your parents.
If your parents went to college, start with a few questions about their experiences. Though less helpful than current college students, their answers will help you determine the qualities you want in a college. Ask what your parents enjoyed most, as well as about mistakes they made or opportunities they missed. Though universities were different when your parents went to college, their input is valuable.
Your parents also can be great resources for proofreading admissions essays. They can check grammar and spelling and to provide general content suggestions. Your parents know you well, and they'll know if you’ve effectively communicated your personality in your essays. A word of caution: College admissions officers can tell when an essay has been written by an adult — if yours is inconsistent with the voice or tone of your application, your chances might be compromised.
Even if you have your heart set on a far away college, it might not be the best fit. Your parents have moved and traveled more than you have. They can give you a better idea of the hidden costs associated with living far away. For example, even with financial aid or scholarships, flying across the country multiple times per year can be expensive. A college a few hours away might be more feasible. Also, take your relationship with your parents and family in to consideration. Many students grow homesick their first year of college.
This is perhaps the most important factor when it comes to your parents’ involvement in the college application process, since they're likely to pay all or part of your tuition and other expenses. Even if you receive financial aid or a scholarship, you'll still need your parents to help fill out various forms. It's important not to let your financial situation at home limit your choices. The most prestigious, expensive colleges often have generous financial aid packages, and your parents might be able to help you navigate the options available to you.