College applications are the most important part of senior year and with it comes a lot of pressure. College search is one of the first steps of this stressful process and having parents’ support can make a big difference. Therefore, as parents, you should know how to help your children get through their first step of entering the real world.

Rule 1: Let your children take the initiatives

Both you and your children should clearly understand each other’s roles. Your children are the one going to college and it is your duty to be there for them. As parents, you tend to think what would be best for them but it’s not necessarily what they want. To put it simply, what you like may not be what they like. Being supportive and available is crucial, but you shouldn’t be assertive. If your children follow your wishes and go to the school they don’t like, there’s a higher chance that they won’t enjoy college and want to transfer. It means going through the admission process again.


With college search, parents should let the children take the initiative in choosing schools they’re interested in. If your children hesitate and voluntarily ask for your involvement, do explain to them that it is ultimately their choice that matters.

Rule 2: Have family discussions regularly

Maintain good communication with children throughout the admission process. The reasons are:

Rule 3: Be positive

Remaining positive is a good way to reduce stress during this intense time. Sometimes, it’s a good idea to encourage children to take part in activities outside of classrooms, such as sports or community service to relieve the pressure from grades, standardized tests and essays. These activities can also boost their application qualifications. 


Sometimes, your children may feel discouraged due to a low grade. You should console and assure them that one low grade doesn’t ruin their chance completely. They should look up and try harder next time. 

Rule 4: Keep close contact with their college counselor

It is important that parents consistently check in with college counselors. It helps parents learn more about children’s performance at school and timely seek advice from professionals when needed. College counselors can assist parents in their support of children’s application process. 

Rule 5: Prepare for standardized tests with your children 

The most important rule for standardized tests is “Don’t be last minute.” As the deadline for college applications approaches, having to take these tests is very stressful and creates a higher chance for low scores. Therefore, you should plan ahead with your children and make sure there’s enough time to complete all application requirements. You should also make sure there is appropriate “rest time” between tests so children can improve any areas of weaknesses.


You can also make studying for standardized tests more fun and less stressful by playing vocabulary games for instance. It can help relieve stress and strengthen the bonding of family members. 

Rule 6: Make plans to visit colleges together

Campus tours are a great way to experience the college environment in advance. A campus tour can help narrow down your children’s college list. 


To make the most out of college tours, you should plan out a family trip for weekends or long weekends and draft questions to ask the schools’ admission ambassadors prior to the trip.


You should always accompany your children on a campus tour to see how your children feel about the schools and to have your concerns answered by school representatives. However, do remember that your children are the one making decisions, you should only be supportive and informative. 

Rule 7: Maintain a good relationship with teachers, especially potential reference providers

While your children are busy with exams, college essays, and standardized tests, they may distance themselves from social relationships. You need to encourage them to maintain a good relationship with teachers, especially the prospective recommendation providers. To do so, encourage your children to be active, contributive and verbal in class. 


It is just as important for you, as parents, to keep in touch with your children’s teachers. The teachers will help you understand your children’s strengths and weaknesses. More importantly, the connection with potential reference providers will give more information about your children’s background and help them write letters of recommendation better. 

Rule 8: Review your children’s application before submission

Due to many elements of application, children will be overwhelmed and may make unintentional  mistakes that can seriously hurt their acceptance chance. You should offer to help them take the final look before submission to catch any unintentional errors.


Most parents hope their children can enjoy their college time the most. Your involvement is necessary to help them get through this intensive time of application with breeze. However, you have to remember that your children are the sole decision-makers for their future and life. You, as parents, are the audience, the supporter and the cheerleaders by their sidelines.

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