5 Ways to Help Your Teen Apply to College

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College applications are an exciting and stressful rite of passage for many teenagers. As their high school careers end, teens have to decide what the next few years of their lives will look like. This transition from child to adult can lead to emotions of sadness, excitement, uncertainty and overwhelm. 

As their parent, you have a unique opportunity to support your teens through this process. However, it can be challenging to know when to step in and when to let your teen take the initiative. Here are five ways you can guide and support your teen as they apply to college. 

  • Listen to Them 

Many teenagers are overly stressed in high school. Adding college applications to their list of responsibilities will only make this problem worse. Students are faced with questions about their future, what they want and how they’re going to achieve their goals on their own. While responsibility is exciting, it can also be very scary for young people. 

Ask your child how they’re feeling about the admissions process. Try to find out if they have any specific fears or concerns and help them navigate those emotions. You can encourage your student by reminding them that they have everything they need to succeed. Listening leads to better understanding and reduces student anxiety during this process. 

  • Find a Reason

Sometimes, teenagers panic about college admissions because they don’t really know what they want to do. College is a big commitment and some teens won’t want to work on applications because they can’t identify a clear path through college to a future career. Going to college without a good reason may seem overwhelming. 

You can help your teen work through these fears by finding a reason for school together. Here are a few goals that can give purpose to school even if students haven’t chosen a career path yet: 

  • They want to improve their communication skills. 
  • They want to stretch themselves by facing new challenges.
  • They want to find a career they love. 
  • They want to learn more about (subject). 
  • They want to develop adult skills like professionalism and time management. 

Help your student identify what matters to them and then talk about ways that college can help them pursue those goals. If your teen’s goals don’t match college at all, it might be time to consider an alternate future plan. 

  • Set Goals Together

In addition to being stressful, the college application process can also be confusing. Every college has different requirements and students may feel overwhelmed with all the application paperwork they need to complete and keep organized. You can be a significant help to your teen by helping them understand and meet specific college requirements. 

Most colleges look at grades and your teen’s GPA first. Standardized test scores aren’t required by all schools, but they can be helpful for earning scholarships. Many schools ask for a personal statement so your teen can give a stronger sense of who they are to admission officers. Although you can help to edit this essay, you should never write it for your student. 

  • Let Them Lead

As much as you might want to take over this process, it’s essential to let your student lead. Your top college pick might be different from theirs and that’s okay. It can be really easy to project your past and future desires onto your teen, but that’s not helpful. Instead, be a resource they can talk to as they decide where to apply and what academic qualities matter to them. 

If your teen isn’t pursuing their own goals, they won’t have a healthy level of initiative and drive. They’re much more likely to succeed if they take ownership of their education and pursue the career that appeals to them. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t give your teen advice. However, the final decision on which college to attend should be up to your child. 

  • Offer Your Support

Many teenagers are afraid of disappointing their parents. They’re worried about failing school, not getting accepted into their dream college or running out of options. Unfortunately, modern culture makes it easy to confuse personal worth with personal achievement.

During the college application process, offer your teen your full support. Assure them that your pride in them doesn’t depend on whether or not they’re accepted into college. In fact, the status of their application won’t change your feelings for them at all. You can help your teen plan college alternatives so they have multiple options for the future. Stay calm and remind them of the big perspective – life is about much more than having a certain college experience. 

Encourage Your Teen

The word “encourage” is a combination of two French words that mean “in” and “courage.” During your child’s teenage years, your role shifts from being a parental authority to being an encourager. You can give courage to your teen throughout the college admissions process by following these five steps. 

Listen to your teen so you can address their concerns. Help them find a reason for college that’s bigger than just getting a degree. Take some time to work through the college admissions process with them and proofread their personal statements. Although your support is invaluable, it’s time to let your teen start making the decisions for their future.

About Author

LaDonna Dennis

LaDonna Dennis is the founder and creator of Mom Blog Society. She wears many hats. She is a Homemaker*Blogger*Crafter*Reader*Pinner*Friend*Animal Lover* Former writer of Frost Illustrated and, Cancer...SURVIVOR! LaDonna is happily married to the love of her life, the mother of 3 grown children and "Grams" to 3 grandchildren. She adores animals and has four furbabies: Makia ( a German Shepherd, whose mission in life is to be her attached to her hip) and Hachie, (an OCD Alaskan Malamute, and Akia (An Alaskan Malamute) who is just sweet as can be. And Sassy, a four-month-old German Shepherd who has quickly stolen her heart and become the most precious fur baby of all times. Aside from the humans in her life, LaDonna's fur babies are her world.

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