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A parent's role: Expert advice on how to help a teen advancing toward college

Staff Writer
Washington County News
Washington County News

As high school students face the college admission anwd application process, what should a parent's involvement be? Check out these tips from the experts:

"Encourage your child in the process, but let them drive it. Resist the temptation to take over or micromanage it. This is their search, not yours. They will need this level of autonomy when they start their college career without you."

– John Pryor, founder of Pryor Education Insights

"My suggestion to parents is to help tailor their children's application process to their long-term success. Students often need help understanding how school and major choice, costs and experiences fit in with their long-term goals. It is critical for students to develop perspective in this process, and parents are the best-equipped to help their children develop it."

– Greg Kaplan, Newport Beach, California-based college counselor and author of "Earning Admission: Real Strategies for Getting into Highly Selective Colleges"

"Sit down and assist with the completion of the applications. The parent will have the ability to answer questions and give advice during the application process."

– Porshia McKay, mother and corporate recruiter from Charlotte, North Carolina, who blogs at

"It is very helpful for students to create a resume-as-you-go starting in ninth grade. If students wait until college application time to create a resume, it is quite easy to overlook relevant information. When their children are entering ninth grade, parents can be the initiator of creating the resume-as-you-go."

– Phyllis Zimbler Miller, author of "How to Succeed in High School and Prep for College"

"Help them manage deadlines and stay on track. There are a lot of moving parts to the college application process. It's easier to get overwhelmed and miss big-ticket items. Get a good college application checklist and timeline. Tack it to your fridge. Plan around major milestones and monthly tasks as a family such as signing up for SAT retakes, carving out time from your schedule to help proofread essays, etc."

– Amber Jin, founder of and an interviewer for University of Pennsylvania

"Encourage your child to start early. You might be groaning at this suggestion, but it's a great idea to get a head start on college applications over the summer following your junior year. ... Focusing on college applications and getting some of the work done now may save you a lot of anxiety once the school year starts."

– Jason Patel, founder of Transizion, a college prep company that donates a portion of profits to low-income students and veterans in need of college and career assistance

"Allow for honest communication about what your family can and cannot afford. Many times students think they are set to attend one school and then the family reveals the real circumstances of finances. Being honest along the process with allow for better planning."

– Jen Henson, founder of Jen Henson ACT Prep, Montgomery, Texas

"There is nothing more valuable to open a young person's mind than college visits. This gets them engaged, makes it feel real to them and also shows them why working in the classroom and on the prep tests is worth it."

– Tom Pabin, founder of Class 101, a national college planning franchise

"Parents: Sort through your treasure trove boxes filled with old photos, articles, awards, past assignments, event ticket stubs, graded projects or anything that your child adored that you may have archived or stored in the garage or attic. This visual display will help draft the plan for constructing an essay outline about your child's sustained interests, passion and genuine pursuits for higher learning."

– Lemi-Ola Erinkitola, founder of The Critical Thinking Child, a tutoring and consulting practice

"A parent can participate most effectively in his/her child's college application process by helping his/her child find the ideal 'fit.' By defining as a family the seven significant priorities — academics, admissions criteria, atmosphere, cost, distance, setting and size — and organizing within those categories, a long list of potential schools and an overwhelming amount of data can easily be simplified and narrowed."

– Karen Kolb, educational consultant and founder of Karen Kolb Coaching

"Be a reference, not their personal assistant. The students who adjust more easily to college and have the greatest successes are those who have learned to do things for themselves. Your student should be an active participant in this process."

– Anne Brackett, chief engagement officer at Strengths University, a coaching, training and consulting company focused on higher education