3 Tips for Parents of Grad School Applicants

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Make sure your child’s in the driver’s seat

I’ve been working in graduate admissions for almost 20 years so I have witnessed this trend firsthand: Parents are playing a much larger role in the application process these days than they used to.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – parents can provide a lot of much-needed support (financial, practical, emotional) for their kids during the admissions process; but I cringe when I see parents overstepping their bounds, attempting to control their children’s actions and outcomes.

How much involvement is TOO MUCH involvement for parents of applicants? Check out these 3 tips:

• Make Sure Your Child’s in the Driver’s Seat. – When you take the lead in the admissions process, you’re essentially telling your child: “I don’t think you have what it takes to manage this process yourself.” And what you’re telling the school is: “My kid isn’t competent or ambitious enough to apply to school himself.” You can help your child apply, surely, but make sure that’s what you’re doing – helping them, and not the other way around.

• Your Child’s Voice Should be the Sole Voice of this Operation. – All communication with the school should be between your child – not you, the parent – and the school. Likewise, the voice your child uses to write her application essays should be her voice – and not yours. And it should go without saying that this advice relates to interviews as well. Help, guide, coach, and edit, but please never speak for your child.

• Help Your Child Deal with Disappointment. – Be it a rejection or a poor score, a parent needs to understand the role they play here. First, your child is the one experiencing this distress, not you. By showing your disappointment, you will only make your child feel worse, not to mention potentially preventing your child from continuing to move forward. Instead, allow your child time to express disappointment, provide the appropriate amount of comfort (you know your child best), and then encourage your child to persevere.  Suggest that your applicant explore alternatives and examine the factors he or she can change to improve the outcome in the future. Play the role of the motivational coach; don’t play the blame game.

Not sure you can effectively guide your child through the grad school admissions process (in a balanced, non-pushy way of course)? Browse our catalog of services to access professional guidance today!

Get Your Game On: Free Special Report

Linda AbrahamBy Linda Abraham, president and founder of Accepted.com and co-author of the definitive book on MBA admissions, MBA Admission for Smarties: The No-Nonsense Guide to Acceptance at Top Business Schools.

Related Resources:

5 Fatal Flaws to Avoid on Your Grad School Statement of Purpose
• The Biggest Application Essay Mistake
•  Admissions Tip: BE YOURSELF!

An HBS Entrepreneur Promoting Career Flexibility

Click here to listen to our conversation with Allison O'KellyPeople looking for traditional 9 to 5 desk jobs almost seem to be the exception in 2015. HBS grad and entrepreneur Allison O’Kelly is all for the change.

Want to know more? Listen to the full recording of our talk with Allison, Founder/CEO of Mom Corps and champion of the Flexibility Movement.

00:01:31 – Introducing Allison O’Kelly and Mom Corps.

00:04:13 – The value of the “traditional route” of spending a few years in the workforce before launching a startup.

00:05:41 – How an I-don’t-know-what-I-want-to-do-with-my-life moment shaped Allison’s future.

00:07:27 – Pros and cons of “staffing up” your small business.

00:10:37 – How helpful is b-school for an entrepreneur?

00:16:10 – What people simply get wrong about Harvard Business School.

00:17:46 –The “flexibility movement” – beneficial for employers and employees.

00:20:52 – Want to join the flex movement? Here’s what you need to do.

00:24:23 – Thoughts on enhancing your profile for HBS admissions.

00:26:56 – Advice for future entrepreneurs. (And a word to those who “don’t have it in their blood.”)

00:29:14 – What the future holds for Mom Corps.

Listen to the full conversation to learn more!*Theme music is courtesy of podcastthemes.com.

Related Links:

Mom Corps

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• Entrepreneurship at Stanford GSB: Carlypso Drives Down the Startup Street
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• Entrepreneurship at UCLA Anderson
Valentine’s Day, Economics, and Stanford GSB
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MBA Search: Matchmaking for MBAs and Businesses

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The Accepted team is super excited to welcome all of our new blog readers!

For those of you who don’t know much about Accepted, here is a little bit about who we are and what we do best:

We look forward to getting to know you better too – so keep up the great conversations in the comments section.

Accepted: The Premier Admissions Cosultancy

Valentine’s Day, Economics, and Stanford GSB

Listen to our interview with Dr. Paul Oyer!The Valentine’s Day episode of Admissions Straight Talk — the perfect opportunity to invite… an economist to be our guest on the show.

Listen to the full recording of our enlightening conversation with Dr. Paul Oyer, Professor of Economics, at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. Dr. Oyer and Linda discuss the common thread between dating, economics, and admissions. Spot-on, right?

00:02:12 – Featured Applicant Question: Do I need to explain my low GPA to the adcom?

00:06:18 – Why Dr. Oyer wrote Everything I Ever Needed to Know about Economics I Learned from Online Dating.

00:11:04 – The limits of economics in explaining online dating.

00:15:49 – How offline dating is like an economic market too. (Yup, economists take the fun out of everything.)

00:17:42 – Signaling: Why education is a waste, but still serves a purpose. How virtual roses signify credibility. And what the college/grad school admissions process has to do with signaling.

00:32:06 – The parallels between economics and dating – Wonderful, but not surprising.

00:33:47 – An interesting aspect of the law and MBA student internship-to-job-offer ratios.

00:38:20 – A Stanford GSB professor’s reflection on the defining characteristic of students at that b-school.

00:40:51 – How Dr. Oyer’s books have changed his teaching.

00:43:36 – What MBA students need to know before they start school.

Listen to the full conversation to learn more!*Theme music is courtesy of podcastthemes.com.

Related Links:

• Everything I Ever Needed to Know about Economics I Learned from Online Dating
Roadside MBA: Back Road Lessons for Entrepreneurs, Executives and Small Business Owners 
• How to Be a Better Valentine, Through Economics
• Stanford GSB Zone
• Stanford GSB 2015 MBA Questions, Deadlines, Tips
• Get Accepted to Stanford GSB, a free webinar

Related Shows:

• A B-School Professor on Main Street, USA
• The Stanford MSx Program for Experienced Leaders
• MBA Project Search: Matchmaking for MBAs and Businesses
• Entrepreneurship at Stanford GSB: Carlypso Drives Down the Startup St.

Leave a Review for Admissions Straight Talk:

Check Out Admissions Straight Talk in iTunes! Check Out Admissions Straight Talk in Stitcher!

Admissions Tip: BE YOURSELF!

Be Yourself: Everyone Else is Already TakenAdmissions committee members across the board (college, grad school, med school, b-school and law school) want you to do ONE thing in your applications, and one thing only: Introduce yourself. This does NOT include:

• Talking about who you WISH you were.
• Exaggerating your volunteer achievements.
• Making up job titles to boost your employment profile.
Cracking jokes when you’re really not such a funny person.
• Using big words that you found in a thesaurus when you have no idea what they mean.

Instead, when introducing yourself to the adcom, follow these simple tips:

• Use your own, authentic voice in your writing.
• Talk about what’s important to YOU instead of what you think the adcom want to hear.
• Tell things as they are – you don’t want to get the boot because a fact checker shows that you were really an “Office Assistant” instead of an “Office Manager.”
• Use a dictionary/thesaurus to ensure you use words correctly, not to engage in communicative creativity…

In short, if you want to stand out among the throngs of applicants in your field, your goal shouldn’t be to introduce yourself as a superhuman, god-like overachiever; instead introduce yourself as you actually are, with your unique interests, passions, accomplishments, and voice. This will be the most extraordinary, stand-out, note-worthy introduction. Not the introduction that makes the adcom members roll their eyes and say “yeah right.”


Accepted.com: The Premier Admissions Consultancy
Related Resources:

From Example to Exemplary – A Free Guide
6 Tips for Getting Started on Your Application Essays
The Quick Guide to Admissions Resumes