Helping Students Build Independence Through College Admissions

It's recommended that the college admissions process be student-driven, but being a parent who tends to hover (admittedly) I found this difficult. I had to keep reminding myself that I was not the one attending college and to take a step back and allow my daughter to manage the responsibility of the process. This allowed her to develop the confidence and independence needed to adjust to the rigorous academics and self-sufficiency of life away from home. The entire experience resulted in both of us changing and growing in many aspects, she making huge steps towards adulthood and me accepting that my little girl is now a young adult.

Here are some tips that can help your family as you allow your child to drive this process:

    • All communication to the colleges should come from the student, not the parent. This includes any conversations with the admissions and financial aid offices. Let your student be the main communicator with the schools during this process.

    • Bring your child to MEFA's After the College Acceptance seminar in your community or review a live or recorded After the College Acceptance webinar together to help examine & compare financial aid offers.

    • Let your child take the lead as you attend Admitted Student Visit Days at his or her top choice schools. These are a great opportunity for your child to talk to faculty and current students, explore the campus, learn more about housing, student clubs, athletics, art groups, and recreation programs, and to eat in the dining hall. Have your son or daughter evaluate each school and share opinions and thoughts after each visit. Check each college website for dates and times.

    • Have your child log into MEFA Pathway and use the College Cost Estimator in the Paying for College section to calculate the cost gap of each school. Then work together to make an informed final decision based upon a realistic and affordable plan to pay the outstanding amount.

    • National College Decision Day is May 1st. Let your child lead the discussion on where he or she would like to attend, and then decide together what makes the best sense for your family and your finances. Make certain to confirm your enrollment and pay the deposit by that date.

Though deciding where to attend college is a big decision, make sure that you allow your child the freedom to take charge of the process. Offer your knowledge and advice when needed, but step back as often as possible. It will be a growing experience for you both!