I’ve been working in graduate admissions for more than 20 years so I have witnessed a change in 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:
Tip #1: Make Sure Your Child is 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 themselves.” You can help your child apply, surely, but make sure that’s what you’re doing – helping them, and not the other way around.
Tip #2: Your Child’s Voice Should be the Sole Voice of this Operation
All communication with the school should be between your child and the school. Likewise, the voice your child uses to write their application essays should be your child’s voice – and not yours. And it should go without saying that this advice relates to interviews as well. Help guide, coach, and edit, but never speak for your child.
Tip #3: 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 they can change to improve the outcome in the future. Play the role of the motivational coach; don’t play the blame game.
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• Get Your Game On: Prepping For Your Grad School Application, a free guide
• Will Your Graduate Education Pay?, a podcast episode
• Flaws Make You Real