Parents and guardians of college students are more involved than ever in choosing the right school—and it’s what their kids want.
By Robert Alexander, Dean of Admissions, Financial Aid and Enrollment Management for Arts, Sciences & Engineering, University of Rochester.
A recent survey of 2,300 parents by consultancy EAB found that three out of four parents want direct communication from colleges. Additionally, 48 percent of students named parents or guardians as their top five most trusted sources of information when choosing a college — an 11 percent increase from 2020. These trends have been steadily increasing over the past two decades, so this is clearly not a fad.
Of course, parents and guardians want to be there. Central to the college admissions process are the two most important assets a parent has: their children and their money.
“College admission is not a prize to be won, it is a match to be made.”
But how can parents get involved in a helpful way while reassuring their child that they control the biggest decision of their young life?
At the University of Rochester, we recognized this trend of increasing parental involvement and sought to communicate directly with the parents and families of prospective students. While the student should take the lead in researching college options, preparing their application papers, and writing their own college application essay, parents can offer support and encouragement to their children throughout the college admissions process.
If you feel like you’re constantly bothering your child with college things, set aside a weekly time to talk about college so he doesn’t feel annoyed about it during the rest of our time together.
Ask your child about their interests—both in and out of class—and plan college visits near where they live. While these schools aren’t top choices, a tour of nearby colleges of different sizes and types will give you a better sense of what questions to ask and what to look for when visiting schools that make the top of their list. Parents can provide perspective by addressing issues their children may not think about, such as:
- Security on campus. Ask how the college or university keeps the campus safe, both in terms of safety and health protocols. Don’t just talk to the staff, ask the students. Every college in the country is required by law to publish safety statistics.
- afford college. Perhaps the most troubling and confusing element is determining how much a particular college might cost, as there can be a gap between the sticker price and the net cost after financial aid. Colleges must have net price calculators on their websites. The more specific the information you enter (about family income, wealth, number of children in college, and your student’s academic performance), the more accurate estimates you will receive. Once your student is a high school senior, help them submit the FAFSA to apply for federal and institutional grants, and follow other institution-specific instructions to apply for all possible grants. FAFSA forms should be submitted by the time students submit their college application.
- Results. Along with world-class faculty, a range of academic programs and modern facilities, ask how a college improves the skills of its students to prepare them for life and careers after graduation. Inquire about career center resources. You can even request data on outcomes such as graduate and trade school admission rates and earnings ten years after graduation. Find online social networks of alumni and parents of current students, such as B. Meliora Collective in Rochester, which can be a great resource for questions and answers.
When it comes time to fill out applications for the college admissions process, ask your child to think about what makes them an interesting person. Remember that colleges aren’t looking for a single perfect archetype student, but for a variety of students who are interesting in different ways. Helping your students see themselves from your perspective can provide a clearer understanding of the story they want to tell in their essay or short answers, how to determine which teachers ask them to write letters of recommendation, and what topics they bring up during an intake interview.
It’s also important to keep in mind the way you communicate. What feels like a reasonable suggestion on your part could be interpreted as an attempt to take over the process. Here are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind.
- Be open-minded and gather solid information from credible sources. Trusted sources will never charge you for advice. These typically include sites ending in .edu or .gov, school counselors, and nonprofits with sites ending in .org, such as the College Board and the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC).
- Focus on the growth and development of your studentsDon’t look at ways to fill pages in a resume with activities you think colleges might want to see.
- Don’t worry about a magic number of schools to look at or apply to. Everyone is different.
- Don’t put pressure or fear into getting into the “right schools.” This is an exciting time for discovery and self-realization in your child’s life.
- Remember that the “most suitable” school for a given student will provide the right combination of academic programs, student life and experience opportunities such as B. Community engagement, research and study abroad.
The University of Rochester Admissions Office has created an online guide for parents and students called Your Path to College to serve as a roadmap to success. It provides a clear guide to pursuing an education at a chosen college or university.
Remember that college admission is not a prize to be won, it is a match to be made. Ultimately, where students go will matter less than what they do to get the most out of their college experience.
category: Voices & Opinion