Five Conversations You and Your Student Should Have as You Begin the College Admission Process

Your high school student is about to embark on the college admission journey.  And of course, as your student embarks on this journey, you will be along for the ride. Congratulations!

You will inevitably hit some bumps along the way, but the journey can be a meaningful one as well.  If you’re hoping to minimize the bumps and maximize the rewarding parts, it’s important that you and your student have some discussions before you set out.  As with any journey, having an itinerary and a map helps the trip go smoothly, but so does being open to some detours and side trips along the way.

As you and your student get ready to begin the admission process, we’d like to suggest five conversations that will help you both prepare. Don’t try to fit everything in at once, give yourselves time to talk and think, but addressing these topics early in the process with help prepare everyone for what might lie ahead.

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Get to Know Your Student’s College Town

Your student has headed to college.  Before she made her choice of college you and she spent lots of time getting to know all about the college.  She made her choice and has headed off to her new adventure.  It may be a few miles away, or may be a long way from home.

But whether your student’s college is close to home or half way across the country, the school is located in a town or city.  And that town or city has become your student’s new home.  Hopefully, as your student spends time at her new home-away-from-home, she’ll get to know her surroundings.  The college experience is all about expanding horizons, and getting beyond the bounds of the college campus is part of that experience.  Your student’s college experiences will be richer the more she broadens them.

Why does the college town matter to parents?

You’re not going to live in your student’s college town, your student is.  So why should you have any interest in getting to know it?  Largely for two reasons: you can help your student discover some new things – or let her show you what she’s discovered, and – it can be fun!

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Book Review: How to Raise an Adult

From time to time, we like to review some of the books available for parents of college students.  There is a wealth of literature available to help parents cope with the transition to college and the changes that occur throughout the college years.  We’ve created lists of recommended reading, and there is something for everyone.  See our Resources and Tools page for suggestions.

Julie Lythcott-Haims’ new book How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success is required reading for college parents, but by then it is almost too late.  This book should be on the required list for parents of elementary, middle school and high school parents as well.  The sooner that parents begin to think about the issues that Lythcott-Haims raises, the easier it will be to break bad habits, and the fewer problems parents and their kids will face.

Julie Lythcott Haims presents her compelling questions early in the book: “How does a parent travel from that place of wanting to utterly protect an infant to the place of letting them go out into the waiting world?”  This is the question we all face as parents – and the reason parents of young children should read this book early.  The author goes on to question, “When we’re tempted to let our presence be what protects them, we need to ask, To what end?  How do we prevent and protect while teaching kids the skills they need?  How do we teach them to do it on their own?” This book helps parents explore the answers to these questions.

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Helicopter Parents Are Still Flying High

It’s not a new story.  But perhaps the story is that it is still a story.  We wrote our first post about the phenomenon of helicopter parenting on College Parent Central back in 2009 and it wasn’t a new concept then.  A lot of attention has been given to this parenting style over the past few years, but it appears that not much has changed.  However, with the release of a new book by Julie Lythcott-Haims, former Freshman Dean at Stanford, the issue of helicopter parenting – and its consequences – has gained visibility and has become news once again.  (Watch for our review of How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success in a few weeks.)

Helicopter parents are such a staple these days that the term was admitted to the Merriam Webster dictionary in 2011.  This dictionary defines the term as “a parent who is overly involved in the life of his/her child.”  It includes parents who are overprotective or show excessive interest in their child’s life, those who micromanage their children, who intervene in conflicts, solve children’s problems, and make important decisions for their child.  It often begins early and continues well through college – and beyond.

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Your College Senior: Preparing to Finish College

There’s a lot of focus on the transition for students from high school to college.  We know that students heading off to college face a whole new world.  But sometimes we underplay – or completely forget – that as students prepare to graduate from college, they are also entering a time of tremendous transition – and the whole new world of employment or graduate school.

As parents, we’ve worked throughout our student’s college career to loosen our grip, at least a little, and to recognize and celebrate our child’s growing independence and responsibility.  We know that the college senior year transition is our student’s transition to handle.  Hopefully, they will keep us informed of their progress along the way, but our role is (or at least should be) much less.  However, it helps to know what’s ahead and to be prepared.  Perhaps we can still do at least a little bit of nudging in the right direction.

We’ve collected a list of our posts that should be most helpful to parents of rising seniors.  Take a little time to read some of them and think about how you might help your student make the most of this final year – and prepare for the transition ahead.

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Book Review: It’s the Student Not the College

There is a wealth of literature available to help parents cope with the transition to college and the changes that occur throughout the college years and beyond.  We’ve offered some lists of recommended reading, and there is something for everyone. Check out our Resources and Tools page for suggestions.

From time to time, we like to review some of the books available for parents of college students.

In this review, we’ll take a look at It’s the Student, Not the College: The Secrets of Succeeding at Any School Without Going Broke or Crazy by Kristin M. White.

It’s the Student Not the College should be on every parent’s reading list – and probably on their student’s list as well.  It is important reading for college parents, but even more important reading for high school parents whose students are still in the midst of the admission process.  We agree wholeheartedly with the premise of the book.  According to the author, “the message at the heart of this book (is) that success is within a person’s own power and will not be determined by the college (a student) attends.”

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Parenting College Students: Reading List #5

This post includes a list of ten books of interest to parents of college students.  We’ve previously published a list of twelve books, a list of fourteen titles, another list of twelve additional titles, and still another list of fourteen titles which you might want to check out. There are certainly even more resources available, but these lists should give parents a good start on more than enough material to support them through the college years.  All of the books have different styles and approaches, so it is important to find the books which resonate for you.

We are not necessarily endorsing these books, but we’d like to help you find material available.  You won’t want to read them all, but you might look for some titles and approaches that intrigue you.

Over the next few months, we will continue to review some of these books to provide a bit more guidance about their content and perspective.  Check our “Reviews” category to see what we’ve reviewed so far.  Happy reading!

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Is College Transfer the “New Normal?”

Gone are the days when most college students begin and end their college career in four years at a single institution.  Many parents, and their students, still imagine that scenario as students engage in the admissions process and agonize over finding just the right college or university for them.  They see themselves graduating from there at the end of four years.

We now know that fewer and fewer students are completing their college degree in four years.  Five years is now closer to the national average, with many students taking longer than that.  Now a new report has been released indicating that nearly 38% of students who entered college in 2008 moved to a new institution at least once within a six year period.

The National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, a non-profit organization based in Virginia tracked 3.6 million students who enrolled in college in the fall of 2008. They looked at the number of students who moved to a new institution prior to completing their bachelor’s degree.  Their findings are certainly important for institutions and policymakers, but may also be important in helping parents be prepared for that moment when their student may come home and say, “Mom and Dad, I want to transfer.”

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The Race to Place: A College Parent’s Guide to Advanced Placement

As July approaches each year, many high school students eagerly await the release of Advanced Placement scores.  These scores may determine whether students will receive college credit or have the option of being placed in advanced, upper level college courses.  If you have a high school student, you may be wondering whether your student should be taking Advanced Placement, or AP courses.  If you have a student about to enter college, you may even wonder whether your student missed an important opportunity.  The short answer is, it depends . . .

Advanced Placement, or AP, courses allow students to participate in college level classes as part of their high school curriculum.  Most students who take an AP course then take the national exam for that course at the end of the year.  Students who receive a score that is high enough may receive college credit and may be exempted from taking certain introductory level classes. More than 2600 colleges in 100 countries grant credit for AP work.  31% of schools consider AP scores as they award scholarships.  AP courses and exams are offered in over 30 subjects.

What are the advantages of taking on the harder work of an AP class?

There are several advantages to taking AP classes:

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Your College Freshman: The Summer Flood of Information

When your student was in high school, she probably received what may have felt like an overwhelming amount of recruiting material from colleges.  Some may have come in the physical mail, and much of it may have come electronically.  Whatever its form, it just kept coming.

Now that your student has been accepted to college, has paid the deposit at her chosen school, and is about to head to college in a few short weeks, there is a new flood of information arriving – and this flood may make the earlier information seem like a mere trickle.  And there is an important difference this time: this information is crucial and should be carefully read and considered.

Lots of summer information

Although some of the summer information arriving from your student’s new college may come in hard copy through the mail, much of it will come electronically.  And the information that arrives electronically will be sent to your student, not to you.  It will most likely arrive at your student’s new college e-mail address, so it is important that she make sure that she sets that up as soon as the college gives her the log-in information.  Be sure to ask her whether she’s done that.

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