Norman’s daughter will be starting her Freshman year at the University of Washington in Fall 2012. He offers the following perspective, having just completing the college application process:
Applying for college is an exciting time for every family. It represents all the hopes and dreams that your student has had since he or she brought home her first report card. It’s important to approach this with good planning and not be overwhelmed by what you hear. It’s natural for parents to want their son or daughter to enter the best rated college, because they have heard so many stories. Yet, the basic things are what really matter. Is the college a good fit? Does your child really like the college and its urban environment? Can your family handle the costs if scholarships and grants do not come through? Would your student be under pressure to be in such a competitive environment?
All parents, to some extent, live through their children. It is so important to let them grow and make the basic choices and directions about their education. We cannot all be great doctors or Nobel winning scientists or Pulitzer winning authors. Young students always do better when they have some control over their choices and feel comfortable about where they go for an education. If your son or daughter has been a successful Honors student and has done reasonably well on their SAT or ACT achievement tests, there is a good chance that a college will accept them. And it’s not always about grades or scores either. Each student has a story to tell. That story is about their interests, what motivates them, what causes they want to pursue–all of this helps them stand out. In the spring or summer break of their sophomore or junior years in high school, it’s always a good idea to take them on visits to colleges. This extra effort is worth it. A college or university has to mean something more than a good name on paper. Your student has to see each college experience and decide whether it’s a good fit.
Parents can help with the application and test fees, create a filing system and just drop an occasional reminder about due dates. Students are already under some pressure with their normal courses and applying for college at the same time, so parents would make their students happier and less stressed to stand back a little and let the process happen. When the acceptance letters come, parents will then share in the joy and pride of their hard work. There are two, basic things that families should give their children: a loving home and an education. When these things happen, the success takes care of itself.