Should My Parents Help Me With College Applications?

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In today’s episode of “College Admissions Real Talk”, Dr. Legatt talks about your parents in the college admissions process.

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VO: Welcome to College Admissions Real Talk with Dr. Aviva Legatt, a podcast for students seeking to get admitted to top-tier colleges. Each episode will feature an important tip for your college admission success, delivered with candor and love. If you’ve ever wanted to take a peek inside the mind of a college admissions officer, this is your chance. Have a question? Text Dr. Legatt at 610-222-5762. So, what’s your dream school? 

AL: Welcome to College Admissions Real Talk. This is Dr. Aviva Legatt, founder and Elite Admissions Expert at Ivy Insight and author of “Get Real and Get In”. Today, we’re going to be discussing “should my mom and dad help me with college applications”. Okay, so, mom and dad are likely to be involved in your college process. Because in most families, the parents hold the purse strings, right? But beyond paying for college, how involved should your parents be? Before we answer this let’s highlight one important truth: your parents have a huge stake in this college admissions game. They’re going to be concerned about things like tuition costs, how far away you are, and whether or not you’ll party and if you’ll be safe on campus. They also have to think about the fact that you won’t be living at home anymore and that can raise complicated feelings. So your parents are invested emotionally and financially in this, which can make the college admissions process a source of strain on your relationship. One way to shift the conversation to make it more positive Is to acknowledge the reality of their experience. I know that the natural inclination might be to lash out or rebel against your parents because they’re your parents. But the reality is that won’t get you what you want. If you can find a way to learn about how they’re feeling and to collaborate with some way on the college process, it will be much easier on both of you. Another question that comes up often: “Should your parents be involved in helping you choose activities”? The answer in most cases is no with one caveat. If the parent is helping you get a connection to an activity that you want to do, then the answer is yes, but don’t let your parent or you fall into the trap of thinking that just one activity or another is right for you. I see this so often. People think they have to add on all these community service hours or an internship. Don’t create your map of what you should be doing based on what you see others doing or what your parents tell you that you need to do. If you find that your parents are getting too involved in your extracurriculars, you can try to find ways to articulate and build your interest outside of the home environment. I know that this is difficult to do, especially during COVID. But thanks to technology, we can truly open up our world. You can teach your parents a bit about what you’re up to when you’re not with them. When you share something with them they’re going to feel involved as a source of pride. Even if they weren’t the one making the suggestion. In terms of when you’re applying, you can make your parents work for you and to your advantage in the college process. The best way to put them to work is to get their help managing your schedule and milestones around the process. Together with your parent or parents, you can put together a timeline and a plan to check in with them about once a week. By committing to this practice with your parents, you can ensure that you’re making progress. While helping mom and dad find a role that’s supportive for you rather than disruptive. Parents can also help you organize virtual or in person college tours, connect you to alumni at colleges, and book test dates for you. As long as all these supports are done with your consent, I promise that having extra help will make your life a lot easier. When I was in high school, my dad helped me, a little bit, also. He made some calls for me for professors who knew at NYU since he knew that was my dream school and I really, really wanted some help. His connections ultimately allowed me to land letters of recommendation. And a little personalized touch in my application because I knew some folks before I applied to NYU. In summary, get your parents help but let them work for you and your goals on the process. Don’t let your parents get involved to the point where your college process becomes a huge drag. Or you feel forced to get involved in activities that you really don’t want to do. All of these efforts that your parents are making to help you will end up hurting you. If you don’t push back in constructive ways. In my book, “Get Real and Get In”, I highlight stories of notable leaders like Adam Grant, Dorie Clark, and Henry Louis Gates Jr. Many of these folks spoke of their parents, enabling or supporting their plans and not getting in their way when important decisions needed to be made. If your parents aren’t exactly supporting you and the opportunity is there, have a conversation about your goals and what you need from them for you to be successful. In a practical sense, it’s hard to say exactly when or where your parents should pull back from this college process. It’s really dicey when you’re living at home because separating your goals and needs from your parents is not so easy. The strategies outlined in this episode should help to give you and your parents a bit of a better idea of what role they can take up in this college process, so that they can be supportive and not derail your efforts.

VO: College Admissions Real Talk is hosted by Aviva Legatt, edited by Stephanie Carlin, and produced by Incontrera Consulting. I’m Caroline Stokes and this has been your daily boost of college admissions insight. Have a question? Text Dr. Legatt at 610-222-5762. For more information on Dr. Legatt and Ivy Insight visit www.ivyinsight.com. And you can pick up Dr. Legatt’s book, “Get Real and Get In”, at major retail outlets across the world. Insight out.