A Parent’s Role in the College Application Process

When we talk about the college application process for a twelfth-grade student, we often think of the colleges’ academic reputation, location, and cost as the most vital elements.

7 min readMay 15, 2022

When we talk about the college application process for a twelfth-grade student, we often think of the colleges’ academic reputation, location, and cost as the most vital elements. Of course, they’re extremely important, but we sometimes forget that we, the parents, can also leave a substantial impact on our children’s college application process.

But the question is, when and where should you get involved in your child’s college application process?

Apart from the things that are going on in their school, senior high school students have many things to take care of — from short-listing relevant colleges and meeting application requirements and deadlines to crafting application essays and following up with college admissions offices.

All these components are more than enough to make them feel overwhelmed, and if you try to get involved too much, it won’t take much time for you to become a helicopter parent. You can surely get involved and support your child in the process, but you should follow some dos and don’ts.

In this post, we’re going to discuss these dos and don’ts so that you can maintain the right balance. While you certainly don’t want to act like a helicopter parent, leaving the children on their own is definitely not a good idea either.

Before we delve deeper into the appropriate role of a parent in the college admission process, let’s see the importance of parental involvement first.

1- Why Should You Get Involved in Your Child’s College Application Process?

Here’re the reasons it’s never a good idea to let your child manage the entire college application process on their own. If you think you don’t have the expertise to steer your child to the right direction, you can always hire a professional service like CounselHero college counseling to gather the necessary information and then start helping your child.

  • The complexity of the college admissions process has greatly increased

Over the past couple of decades, the college admissions process has undergone drastic changes. These days, there’re much more colleges than earlier and many different programs, some of which even didn’t exist a few years back. Additionally, the number of students attending college has increased significantly in the past few years, making the process highly competitive.

  • College has become more costly

Reviewing the cost of college education has become an integral part of the college admissions process today. Choosing the wrong college may bring an unnecessary financial burden to the entire family, which can be avoided if children know their parents’ financial capacity.

  • Parental involvement can help eliminate unnecessary stress and expense

These days, if a college-bound student misses a vital deadline regarding the college application and admissions process, it may lead to severe consequences. From missing the opportunity to get into a top college to taking more years to graduate — it may attract several unwanted things. However, when parents get involved in the process, they can double-check all the important things to eliminate any inadvertent mistakes.

2- What Role Should You Perform in Your Child’s College Application Process?

Here, it’s important to mention that while some students require less parental assistance in the college application process, others may require more parental involvement. Therefore, when you try to follow these dos and don’ts, do so according to your child’s personality, strengths, and weaknesses.


  • Let them think independently

You need to remember the fact you aren’t the one going to attend college, but it’s your child. If you offer suggestions at each step of the college application process, it may damage your child’s confidence and ability to act like an independent, responsible young adult when they're in college. So, allow your child to make most of the decisions by themselves while letting them know that you’re available for help.

  • Take care of the administrative tasks

The college application process involves several administrative tasks such as joining the school mailing list, tracking application deadlines, registering for tests, scheduling visits and interviews, hiring a local counselor or talking to a college counselor online to ensure everything is on track, etc. Together you can develop a to-do list and plan how to carry them out.

  • Discuss financial aspects

This is one of the most vital situations where you can and must help your child during the college application process. The cost of college education in the U.S. varies significantly from one school to another. So, if there’s a strict budget for your child’s college education, you must let them know of this at the beginning of the application process.

If your child needs to take out a student loan, clearly communicate how this will impact their future lifestyle.

In the case of loans, together, you should calculate the interest rates to figure out monthly payments. This will help your child decide whether or not they should attend a less expensive school where they can graduate without having any debt.

Another effective method to reduce the financial burden regarding college education is winning scholarships and financial aid. If your child is ready for this, it’s almost a must to consult a professional service such as CounselHero college counseling. Since these people regularly deal with scholarships and financial aid, they can steer your child to the right options.

And the best thing is that you may not have to pay anything to get professional advice.

There’re some reputable yet free college counseling services available that you can use to get the best suggestion.

  • Hide your personal disappointment

A large number of students don’t get accepted by their preferred colleges. If this happens with your child, make sure to support and reassure them. It’s also extremely important to manage your personal disappointment and anxiety because if you exhibit them, your child will notice, and it’ll make them more upset.

Communicate the message that disappointment is often an unavoidable element of the college application process, and there’re several other colleges that can be a good fit for your child. This is another scenario where you should talk to a college counselor online or face-to-face. An expert service like CounselHero college counseling can help your child explore more suitable options.


  • Write application essays

A lot of parents feel that if they write or edit their child’s application essays and make them better, it’ll increase their child’s chances of getting accepted. However, the reality is while the essay is one of the important aspects of the college admission process, in most cases, it isn’t the deciding factor.

Colleges want to hear the voice and story of an applicant beyond their grades, courses, and numbers. You can always proofread an essay or give suggestions to improve it, but if you edit a piece to a good extent, it’ll lose its authenticity. And admissions officers know what a college-bound student can write, so your effort and time will hardly be of any help to your child.

  • Open the email or mail

The decision of whether or not your child is accepted by a college generally comes via email or mail. It’s absolutely normal if you feel extremely curious to know what has happened, but let your child go through it first. After all, your child will be attending college, and hence, they should experience the accomplishment (or failure) first.

If the decision is a negative one, help is available in the form of professional services like CounselHero college counseling that can suggest more options to your child. So, be sure to accept the decision sportingly and move ahead.

  • Take advice from friends

It’s never a good idea to take advice regarding your child’s college application from well-meaning friends, and there’re reasons behind this.

First, it’s less likely for your friends to have a thorough knowledge of your child’s academic profile, so it isn’t possible for them to steer your child in the right direction.

Second, they may not have any understanding of a specialized and complicated field like college counseling. Therefore, if you follow their suggestions, it may make the situation even more complicated for you and your child.

  • Contact college admissions officers

Even if you invested a significant amount of time and effort in getting your child into a particular college, you must refrain from calling or emailing the admissions officer of that college. It’ll most likely generate a negative impression of your child.

Remember that college admissions officers want to be contacted by prospective students, not their parents.

If you fail to manage your curiosity, you may discuss the matter with your child and see if they’re willing to contact the college.

Closing Thoughts

We hope that this blog post has been useful to you in figuring out what you should do during your child’s college application process and what you shouldn’t.

No matter the decision, you must always support your child and try to do what you can to make their journey a hassle-free one.

If you find the process to be overwhelming, it’s best to seek expert guidance, whether it’s one of the free college counseling services or an advanced platform like CounselHero college counseling.




CounselHero is the digital career and academic counselor for K12 students. We help them to discover their dream future and show them how to get there.