When preparing your kid for college, many questions and concerns are going to come up.

Even though I am neither a college counselor nor an expert on college admissions, I have gone through the process twice before with my kids, and I am currently leading a parents club of my own. So, I have many insights to help you stay sane and maintain a healthy relationship with your child as they prepare for college.

The First Step 

In my experience, the first step in preparing your kid for college and the journey to get there is knowing they have a unique path to follow and understanding it may differ from the one you took.

Examining and Managing Your Expectations  

As parents, we must tune into our expectations to avoid them getting in the way when we guide our children in their college journey. We often bring our college-related baggage into this process, so recognize your biases, hopes, and insecurities and address them to ensure that you do not inadvertently impose them on your child.

Having Open Conversations 

Talk openly with your partner about your expectations and financial limits, and include your child in the conversation. Discuss your child’s responsibilities and practical aspects of attending college, like student loans and their future financial implications. Honest and forthright conversations will help your child to align their expectations and make informed decisions. Be prepared to listen and support their choices, even if it means considering alternatives to traditional college paths.

Guiding Without Forcing 

Helping your child figure out their next steps should be a collaborative process. Avoid dictating their decisions or forcing them into a specific direction. Instead, offer guidance and let them take the lead, allowing them to explore their options and make informed choices.

Preparing Your Kid for College That’s the Right Fit

As you work through the process, narrow down the list of potential colleges based on your financial contribution, geographical preferences, and your child’s interests. It is essential to stay flexible, as their preferences might evolve.

Knowing the College Application Process

Get to understand the college application process. Learn about early decision, early action, rolling admissions, essays, and financial aid forms for each school your child is considering. That knowledge will help you support your child in the application process without taking over.

Avoid Doing It for Them 

While you might want to write their essays or complete their applications, it is crucial to let them handle the process themselves. That empowers them to take ownership of their future and learn valuable life skills.

A Family Journey

We live in New York, so we explored campuses in our region and around DC during family visits and took our kids to visit various colleges when we traveled around the country. Seeing diverse campus environments and deciding where they felt comfortable helped them know what they wanted in a school.

Being supportive 

College admissions can be unpredictable. Your child may get into unexpected schools or face disappointments. Be supportive and proud of their efforts, and remember that the college experience is just the beginning of their lifelong journey.

Celebrating Acceptance

We believe in celebrating acceptance, as it is a significant achievement. When our kids received acceptance letters, we visited the schools they got into to help them get more excited about their choices.

Understanding the Admissions Process 

Your kid’s school and guidance counselor can provide information on the admissions process, application requirements, and insider tips. You will not need to hire external consultants if you actively engage in the process.

Tips and Takeaways

  • Consider using virtual college tours and open houses for fee waivers.
  • Create a separate email account for college-related communication and have your child actively check it.
  • Be diligent about managing emails.
  • Complete FAFSA and other required financial aid forms for all universities, even if you think you will not qualify for aid.
  • Do not succumb to the pressure of early commitments.

What Am I Noticing

I recently read a book recommended by my college-aged daughter called Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin. I was initially skeptical about its focus on game designers but was pleasantly surprised. The story delves into the complexities of relationships, the balance between passion and skill, and the beauty and challenges of friendship, all set against the backdrop of early adulthood. The book emphasizes the difference between excelling at something and genuinely loving it, a valuable insight for those considering their futures. I found it a great read and particularly relevant for people going through the college application process.


Links and resources:

Women of Wonder (W.o.W) Founding Members

Information for Women of Wonder (W.o.W) Community 

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