For some parents, the thought of their children transitioning into college life is equal parts exciting and frightening. Boosting your child’s chances of success depends on your ability to enable their independence— a skill helicopter parents have a habit of overlooking.
To ensure optimal long-term and short-term success, future undergraduates should take the lead in their academic careers, starting with the admission process. While it’s necessary to assist your child with financial aid and college essays, you should also take a step back to allow them to navigate applications independently. Remember, overprotective parents should avoid coddling their soon-to-be undergraduates by writing or editing their kid’s essays. Additionally, former helicopter parents must refrain from impersonating their child in messages to admissions officers.
The consequences of being an overbearing parent can inhibit your high schooler from becoming a well-adjusted undergraduate. College life requires refined time management skills and the ability to resolve roommate conflicts and develop budgets.
Ultimately, overpowering parents do their aspiring college students a disservice by denying them a chance to develop these skills without adult supervision. Studies show that children raised by helicopter parents also have a higher chance of developing anxiety and depression or suffering from overwhelming feelings of loneliness and helplessness. These emotional irregularities can hinder a first-year student from reaching optimal productivity levels and steer them off course when traveling down the road to success.
That said, changing your parenting approach is the only way to give your future undergrad a leg up in their college career. Consider these seven ways you can empower your kid as they grow into adulthood.
Lend a helping hand in calculating the odds of acceptance
The acceptance rate listed on a college website doesn’t necessarily represent a student’s real chances of getting in. By dividing the number of accepted students by those that applied, you can calculate the school’s real acceptance rate. Colleges with slim acceptance rates, also known as reach schools, should be discussed at length.
When your student expresses interest in applying to a reach school, encourage them to set realistic goals, compare their SAT scores to last year’s freshmen. Additionally, as the parental figure, you’ll want to reiterate the importance of resilience with your high schooler. Schools with moderately competitive acceptance rates, like Keene State College, might be a better fit for your undergrad.
Collaborate on a schedule
Create a timetable with your child and allow them to work through it independently, although gentle reminders may be necessary. Detailed schedules will ensure your undergrad meets essential application deadlines and testing requirements.
Proofread application essays
Prompt your child to start on application essays as early as the summer before senior year. As they work through drafts, offer feedback, and proofread for typos or errors. Overall, your child should take the reins on their essay and feel encouraged to write as authentically as possible.
Work through financial aid options
One of the trickiest parts of applying to college is determining the right financial option for you. As college application season stress ensues, explain the benefits and drawbacks of student loans or scholarships in a way your child will understand.
Encourage them to think of the future
Finding the right fit for your undergrad includes thinking about a potential career. Compare each school’s specialties and extracurriculars. Your child should feel empowered to daydream of their potential and enjoy the thrills of the admissions process without feeling nagging pressure to make a decision right away.
Connect with campus resources
Guide your undergrad toward safe spaces within the college community. Navigating higher education can take a toll on your undergrad’s mental health, and having access to counselors and support groups can lighten the emotional load.
Searching for the right college can be stressful for your child, and self-doubt feelings may come and go throughout the process. Become a calm and confident source of support for your high schooler, and remind them that whatever decision they choose will be celebrated.
Reformed helicopter parents can still empower their children as they develop into autonomous adults. Remember, your future undergrad will enter their college career with confidence when you initiate honest conversations about acceptance rates, financial aid options, and campus resources.
Don’t inadvertently limit your child’s potential by spoonfeeding them step-by-step instructions for navigating the college application process. Instead, encourage your soon-to-be high school graduates to stand their own two feet and refine their decision-making skills.
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