How to survive the college admissions process
Sure, parents face challenges at every stage of their child’s life—nobody ever said potty training, teaching your child to read, or hiding sobs as you send them off to kindergarten were easy landmarks.But 17 years in, many parents find themselves facing what might be the toughest obstacle yet: the college admission process.
After feeding them, loving them, helping them with homework, cheering for their sports team, and doing all you can to prepare them for the future, you’re rewarded with FAFSAs, essays, and campus tours. And the light at the end of the tunnel? Sending your kids off to college, as an adult, all on their own. Oh, our hearts.
But as hard as the process may be for parents, it’s important to remember that it can be even tougher on kids—the ones who have to balance their emotions about leaving home with the stress of applying to college. Yes, even if they don’t admit it, they have plenty of feelings about leaving dear old mom and dad.
At the end of the day, parents just want to help—and Morehead State, a public university in Morehead, Kentucky, just wants to help parents help their children. With the help of this award-winning college—and the firsthand experience of serving students (…and their parents) since 1887—we’ve put together the essential tips for surviving the college admission process.
Deep breaths, guys. You’ve got this.
Help your child identify what he’s looking for
First things first: help your child identify what she’s looking for in a school. Does she want a college with Greek life? One that specializes in a certain discipline or industry preparation? One close to home? One that has multiple campuses? Online classes? Extracurriculars? Sports teams?
There are thousands of colleges to choose from in the United States alone, and students can often feel overwhelmed with the vast range of options. Helping your child make a “wish list” of qualities and characteristics that he’s looking for can help him narrow the scope of the search; things like location, programs offered, campus life, and support resources make a good place to start.
From there, you can help create a list of schools that make the first cut, matching up your child’s “must-haves” with a school’s defining characteristics. For example, students looking for a school with a rich history, manageable class sizes, and widespread diversity may find that Morehead State meets their needs.
Is your child talking about traveling abroad, joining Greek life, or studying out of state when you know their college fund won’t be able to handle the weight of these expectations? Instead of crushing their dreams right before they send in their letter of intent, make sure you set expectations from the outset—helping your child understand what is manageable for your family and what might need to be covered by loans or scholarships.
If additional funds may be needed to help your child afford the college experience she’s hoping for, help steer her toward schools, like Morehead State, that have extensive financial aid programs. The more opportunities and assistance that a school offers, the less you and your child will need to stress about the cost of higher education—and the more assured you can be that your son’s or daughter’s future is in good hands.
Tour the campus
No matter how much planning, research, and list-making you do at home, the decision of where to attend college tends to come down to a gut feeling—the feeling of “this is where I want to spend the next chapter of my life.” And the only way to get this gut feeling is to tour the campus.
That’s right—sometimes it’s as simple of having your child step foot onto a university’s campus and feeling whether or not this is the school for him. In fact, some of the best advice a parent can give a child in shopping for a college is “trust your gut.” That’s because the physicality of being on campus—experiencing firsthand the vibe of the school’s layout, student body, and facilities—is often enough to make the connection between an abstract plan and a future reality.
Fortunately, most schools understand the importance of touring a campus—and offer parents and potential students plenty of opportunities to check out the school firsthand. Morehead State offers a rotating schedule of tours Monday-Friday throughout the year, including general campus visits as well as transfer visits, Saturday Open Houses, group visits, and campus visits along with an academic program meeting.
Sneak into a lecture
Shhh–we won’t tell. While you may not be able to get away with sneaking into a seminar or discussion, prospective students can usually sneak by unnoticed in a larger lecture.
While attending a class will allow your student to get a feel for what it would be like attending college in general, it will also clue her into what to expect from the specific university you’re visiting. This is an opportunity to see up close and personal what the school’s teaching style, class size, and even classrooms look like—as well as to get a feel for the current student body. This is also a great time to resurface the “wish list” noted earlier, especially if class size, program diversity, and professor teaching style were things your child was particularly concerned about.
For instance, Morehead State’s average class size is just 19 students, with 80% of classes capped at under 30 students. If an intimate learning experience is something that appeals to your child, then attending a lecture at Morehead State might help him decide that MSU fits his academic needs.
Follow your child’s lead
At the end of the day, pushing your child toward a school, major, or career path that she’s not comfortable with is only going to cause her more stress—and you more anguish. Instead of trying to lead, let your child take the reigns—as challenging as it may be. (We’re looking at you, helicopter parents).
But college is a time of role shifting—and the application and decision process is an opportunity to begin to take a (small—don’t panic) step back while simultaneously encouraging your child to take a step forward. By approaching this next chapter with a shifted power dynamic, your son or daughter is more likely to begin college with an increased sense of independence—one that will help your child develop the skills necessary to thrive as an adult as well as better enjoy the college experience.
Are you ready to support your child in taking the next step in his or her education? A good place to start is MoreheadState.edu, where you can discover everything you need to know about Morehead State. Known for giving their students personal attention, Morehead State’s acclaimed athletic teams, academic programs, local college town, and focus on giving back make this school one not to miss during the application process.
Who knows, your child could be the next Morehead State Eagle…