Plan For College

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Role of The Parents in College Planning

Why Start College Planning Early? Series    #5

Role of The Parents in College Planning

Some parents want to do everything for their child during the college planning process. They want to write the essay, fill out the applications, contact the admissions departments, etc etc. They even want to pick the college their student should attend.  Most students want to be involved and take responsibility for the choosing their college.   They will have a much better college experience if they are truly involved in the college planning process.

Too many parents it seems know the right thing to do; especially if they are college graduates, right? They graduated so they know everything about how to get in and succeed. They know their alma-mater has the best programs and campus life that their child should go there also. They are experts at college planning, even though they graduated 10 or 20 or 30 years ago...right? Actually, they are probably wrong and the student is the one that suffers during the planning process.

"Well I went to ABCU and it's the best college for my daughter" Really? What if it's is not? If they are merely bystanders in choosing the right college for them, they will not be fully committed when they arrive. Too much parental involvement will deprive them of the feeling of commitment and investment into the next 4 years of hard work. It not help them acclimate when they arrive and they will likely either quit early or take longer to finish.

So, what is the best role for parents? What can they do to make sure the college their child attends is the best for the child and gives them the best tools for a successful life? We at The College Planning Group believe that the parents should be guides, encouragers and provide gentle pressure to keep the student focused over the long process.

We also believe the earlier the parent and student start together, the smoother it will go. Starting in their Freshman Year of High School means there is less pressure and stress Senior Year and the student can enjoy the process. Parents that encourage them to start early see less stress, better communication, a more enjoyable experience, and, most importantly: The best Student / College match.

Here are some ideas on how parents can best help their child during the College Planning Process:
  • Don't assume the student will not want to participate
  • Do not write the essay for them. Read it and offer gentle comments but let it be their work.
  • Help the student start early. Freshman Year is the best time to begin for less stress and better planning.
  • Prepare finances for college. College is expensive and the student is aware of high student loan debt possibilities. Plan early with your financial advisors.
  • Don't scare the student into doing more than they can handle: High School is already hard enough. Starting early and spreading the work out over 4 years is best...Otherwise it will add pressure they do not need
  • Discuss career goals in simple terms. What are you good at? What jobs seem interesting? What challenges do you prefer? Do not ask them if they want to be a surgeon or tax accountant just yet.
  • Be open to a Gap Year. Yes, this is a possibility...especially to get your finances in line and give the child a chance to search internally for their best career path.
  • Make sure they look at local and community colleges, even if they want to go Ivy League. The financial benefits are obvious but these schools cater to undecided students who are still searching.
  • Encourage student to complete tasks before deadlines. Set rewards for completing tasks.
  • Talk with guidance counselors to learn about scholarships.
  • Parents should plan college trip logistics. Student should pick the colleges to visit but you plan travel, hotel, meals etc.

Hope this helps!

The College Planning Group
Canton MA     800-985-8569

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