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Tips for Parents: Making the Admissions Process Smoother for You and Your Child

By Risa Lewak
Independent Educational Consultant

Is the cost of college giving you nightmares? Do you get anxious thinking about your child's chances of getting into an Ivy League university? There are few things in life as stressful as having a son or daughter apply to college. Although the process is never easy, here are a few tips that may make the college admissions process smoother and more tolerable for both you and your child.

Risa Lewak, MSEd, is the author of Don't Stalk the Admissions Officer, which offers both a practical and humorous look at applying to college. She also runs the website Because she still has nightmares about the college admissions process, Risa's goal is to alleviate the confusion and fear of those going through it.

Tip #1: Let your child apply where he/she wants – even if it's not the school of your dreams.

Tip #2: If paying for school is an issue, have a candid talk about it. Explain that certain schools may not be within the realm of possibility because of prohibitive costs.

Tip #3: If you have real reservations about your child's choice of school, sit down and talk to your child about why the school's not such a good idea. If your fears are unfounded, then admit you're wrong (sorry, that one may be tough).

Tip #4: Do not buy the college bumper sticker for the car until your child has been accepted.

Tip #5: Be oblivious to where your neighbor's kid is applying, this has nothing to do with your child.

Tip #6: Remember that your child is not you. He/she has different tastes, preferences, and interests than you do. Respect your child's ability to make an independent choice.

Tip #7: Even though HPY – or Harvard, Princeton, and Yale – is an AP away from HAPPY, going to a super-selective school does not guarantee your child's future happiness.

Tip #8: If your involvement with your child's applications becomes obsessive, you might want to find a new hobby to distract you.

Tip #9: Do not say, "I know more about this than you do" no matter how tempting.

Tip #10: There's a fine line between parental support and parental interference. You can support your child without exerting control over every part of the admissions process. For example, "Do you need help proofreading your essay?" is preferable to saying, "This won't get you accepted. It needs to be re-written."

Tip #11: The happiest parents are the ones who know their child will be happy wherever he/she decides to go.

Tip #12: Realize that your child's self-worth is not measured by the thickness of the envelope that comes in December or April

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