5 Tips for Navigating College Application Season

Students need support as they navigate the college application season. As their parent, guardian, or champion, you can support them and help equip them with the knowledge they need to make informed college decisions. 

Here are five ways to help your student choose and apply to colleges perfect for them. 

Visit Campuses

College fit and feel matter! If you can, visit your student’s top schools in person. Nothing beats walking through buildings and common areas to get a feel for the campus vibe. If an in-person visit isn’t possible, many colleges offer virtual tours and online events that help students learn more about the campus and culture. Contact the college’s admissions office to set up in-person and virtual visits.

Build a Relationship with the College Community

As your student narrows down their top schools, have them reach out to faculty members from their intended major or the student in charge of a club or organization that interests them. If your student is nervous about making the connection, encourage them to connect with the admissions office and establish a relationship with that team. The admissions team not only reviews applications but also helps students figure out if their college or university is best for them.

Understand Application Expectations

Once your student’s college application list is narrowed and balanced, help them research application expectations. Each school’s application requirements differ. Some might place a higher weight on grades and test scores, while others might focus on extracurriculars and letters of recommendation. As your student drafts their brag sheet, help them reflect on their high school career. Brag sheets should detail experiences, extracurriculars, and activities highlighting leadership, creativity, and expertise. They also help teachers write strong letters of recommendation.

Connect with the School Counselor

Your student should be aware of both their high school’s and college’s expectations. High schools have their own procedures for the college application process, especially letters of recommendation and transcript requests. Encourage your student to meet with their counselor. 

As a family member, guardian, or champion, your presence will benefit your student as they apply to college and graduate high school.

Attend an American College Application Campaign Event

If your student’s school participates in the American College Application Campaign, be sure they attend one of these events. These experiences support students through the application process. Your school or community might call these application nights, or they may celebrate college application week or month.

Most college admission applications open on or near August 1 of your student’s senior year of high school. While we recommend starting early, your student does not need to submit on the first day an application opens. Encourage them to track deadlines and be thoughtful about each application section. It should be complete and represent them well. 

As your student’s champion, you know them well and can support them in their college application readiness. With the Encourage app, your student can track application deadlines, learn about financial aid, apply for scholarships, explore majors and careers, and so much more! Once they download this phone or web app, ask them to show you around so you can see their progress and support them on their college and career journey.