Preparing Your Student for College Applications

Your role as a family member or mentor is crucial in supporting your student through college applications. Once they create a college application list based on fit and match, it is time to prepare for college application season. Here are five actions you can do to support your student. In doing so, you will equip your student to make informed college decisions.

Visit the Campuses

The fit and feel of a college campus matters, so  visiting in person is the best way to gauge that.  Nothing replaces walking the buildings and outdoor spaces to see how it feels. If possible, we recommend traveling. If travel isn’t feasible, there are other opportunities for virtual engagement. Virtual tours and online events will teach your student more about the culture on campus. . The college’s Admission Office can also set up any of these types of visits, both in person and virtual.We encourage you to be part of these experiences! It will allow for you to debrief with your student and be a sounding board for their processing.

Build A Relationship with Colleges

Your student should reach  out to the members of the college campus community that reflect their needs and priorities. This may be  a faculty member from their intended major or the staff member in charge of the activity. It could also include  an organization they want to be involved in, a student that is part of a community they hope to join, and so on.  This can feel intimidating though, so encourage your student to first connect with the Admissions Office and establish  relationships with those teams. The Admissions Office role is not only to review applications for decisions, but also to support students in determining if their college or university is actually the best decision.

Begin on Application Expectations

Once the college application list is narrowed and balanced, support your student in researching the application expectations. Each school’s application requirements can be a little different when it comes to test scores, transcripts, letters or recommendation, and more. Support your student in drafting  their brag sheet, for this will help them reflect on their high school career. Brag sheets should detail key experiences that your student will note within their college applications. They also help teachers write strong letters of recommendation.

Connect with the School Counselor

Not only is it important for your student to be aware and tracking college’s expectations, but also their high school’s expectations. High schools have their own procedures for the college application process. (Especially when it comes to letters of recommendation and transcript requests). Encourage your student to meet with their counselor. and as a family member or mentor, you can be present to learn more about your expected role, too. Being aware of your role on this journey will benefit your student as they apply to college and graduate high school.

Take Part in an American College Application Campaign Event in the Fall

If your student’s school participates in the American College Application Campaign, be sure your student attends one of these events. These experiences are organized to support students through the application process. Your school or community might call these Application Nights.” Or they may celebrate college Application Week or Month.

Typically, college admission applications open on or near August 1 of a 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, but also take the time to be thoughtful about the college application. They want to make sure it is complete and represents them well. As your student’s family member or mentor, you know your student well and can support them in their college application readiness.