How to Involve Your Parents in Your College Search...

Barry Lenson

How to Involve Your Parents in Your College Search . . . without letting them drive you insane

How to Involve Your Parents in Your College SearchI have been involved in the process of applying to college twice. First I applied to college. Then I was the parent of a student who applied to college and got in. Hopefully, those dual credentials qualify me to comment on a touchy topic . . .

How can you apply to college and keep your parents involved without letting them drive you nuts?

It can be a tough road to travel. After all, your parents want to be part of the process. If you’re lucky, they could be contributing a lot of money to pay your college costs. They have a right to be involved. But you have some rights too, such as the right to make a decision that is best for you, free of excessive parental pressure.

So here are some suggestions . . .

  • Include your parents, but stake out some time and space for yourself. After you take a campus tour with your parents, for example, explain that you would like to head off on your own to walk the grounds, strike up some conversations with other students, and just generally get a feel for the place – on your own.
  • If there are certain tasks that you want to handle independently, say so. Perhaps your mom or dad has a high-powered friend that they would like to write a reference letter for you, but that idea just doesn’t feel right to you. You want to find your own referral-writers. Or perhaps your parents want to take a very active role in the creation of your college essays, and you want to go it on your own.  If you find yourself in situations like those, have the gumption to say so. Yet counterbalance that position by taking the following step too . . .
  • Ask your parents to help you in areas that feel right to you. Maybe you would enjoy having your mother or father help you pick out some clothes to wear to a campus visit or interview. Perhaps you really would appreciate it if one of your parents did review and edit an application essay. If you let your parents help you in areas where you appreciate their assistance, it will be easier for you to establish some independence in areas that mean the most to you.
  • Indulge your parents’ nostalgia a little. After all, they could be preparing to see you leave the house and move away to college. And in most cases, that idea is hard on them. In ways big and small, they will probably want to hold onto some rituals that are holdovers from earlier years. Maybe they want you to have your friends sleep over on the living room rug, just like they did years ago. Perhaps they want to throw a big high school graduation or post-prom party for you, when you’d rather head out with your friends. But hanging onto the past a little bit is not always a bad thing. You might find that you even enjoy a little nostalgia.

So you see, dealing with your parents at this time of transition is really a two-way street. Your parents might drive you a little crazy. You might drive them a little crazy too. But with some healthy give and take, you will all get through it together.

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