Hello fellow parents!
My inbox has flooded with inquiries from seniors and their parents about help with application essays. Those essays are not as spooky as they may seem, but beware. When the stakes feel high, parents can go into mama bear mode, protecting our young at any cost (even jail time In some recent, isolated cases I’m sure you’ve heard all about). There’s no sense being subtle about this because you already know I am your ally. Please drop your pen right now and step away from that application if you have been editing your child’s essays or “working with her” to “suggest” ideas while she’s trying to write.
If you airbrush your child’s unique seventeen-year-old voice and perspective into experienced adult prose, you’ll camouflage the very voice that will infuse your child’s application with the power to stand out in an applicant pool.
Your support matters—not your pen-on-paper support, but your emotional and time management support. Here’s how you can help:
- Help your child find and record deadlines and carve out time during the busy weeks leading up to those deadlines to complete her applications well.
- If you catch yourself saying to anyone, “We are applying to…” or “We are struggling with supplements for…” just stop mid-sentence, recalibrate your involvement level, and replace “We” with your child’s name.
- Then tell your kid you believe in her, that she can do it.
- If she wants to discuss ideas with you, listen.
- If she asks you to proofread for comma splices, proofread for mechanical errors and anything that’s confusing with the fervor you’d display on the sidelines of her soccer game.
- If she has worked hard on that essay, tell her you’re proud of her work ethic, no matter what notifications come in December or March.
You may be thinking, “Yes, but my child needs extra help from me because he’s so busy with football OR he has struggled so much with writing for so many years OR she is so stressed out right now OR she has a big test on the same week as the deadline OR…” If so, you are a loving, caring parent, and I appreciate your empathy! But my advice applies to you especially.
For free: I’ve added a new downloadable resource on my website: Tips for Tackling Supplemental Essays. And here’s a popular response I gave to a question posed to me on Quora (and picked up by Inc.): This Is What Really Makes a College Application Stand Out, According to an Admissions Pro
For a fee: I’m scheduling consultation calls now for families seeking help. Here’s how it works. You can email me any materials you want me to review as well as burning questions ahead of time, and then your child or the whole family can pick my brain on the phone for a full hour.
For juniors and younger…
I had a great chat with Hillary Bird of Chicago Parent Magazine on her Masters in Parenting podcast: How to Prep for College Admissions (Part 1) and How to Prep for College Admissions (Part 2)
I had another great but very different conversation,
Surviving the College Admissions Process for Parent and Child, with Dr. Vidisha Patel for her Voice America radio show: Perspectives.
For anyone who will listen…
Here’s my take on the college admissions scandal, as well as advice for parents (to avoid another one) picked up by Apple News: Have College Admissions Scandals Changed University Policies? And How Can Parents Best Help With the College Admissions Process?
If you’re in the neighborhood, I’ll be discussing college admissions next week IRL:
“…the mental muscle we are exercising here: You are in control of your attention.”
Take 5 minutes of your life to relax with Cheryl Vigder Brause, Certified Mindfulness Instructor and Executive Director of 2bpresent, LLC:
5 Minute Mindful Breathing Meditation for Relaxation and Stress Relief
Please take care of yourself (if not through meditation, Halloween candy works), as well as your child, wherever you find yourself in the college admissions and parenting journey.