College Life

How much Hand-Holding is Necessary and/or Appropriate When it Comes to College Planning?

Parent assistance in college planning

Chances are you are one of three mothers. You are a hands-off mother, you are a hands-on mother, and there’s a few of you who are somewhere in-between. There has been much debate on this subject and it applies to multiple facets of your child’s life. Here we focus on one particular topic, college planning.

Times Have Changed for College Planning

College planning requires much more than it did thirty, twenty and even ten years ago. There are more options, more considerations and more decisions to make. Many parents feel that if they’ve done their job correctly up to this point, it’s time to let their child sink or swim. If they don’t learn now, they never will. Others take the approach that these are some of the most crucial decisions a child will make in their young lives, therefore they shouldn’t  make those decisions on their own.

Where Do You Score?

While each student is unique in their motivation, intelligence and overall needs, we feel it’s in your best interest to stay near the middle ground on this issue. We’ve collaborated the common scenarios a high school junior or senior encounters during their college preparation. To see where you fall as a parent, assign each scenario with a number ranging from one to five. One meaning you plan to give full independence to your child to complete the task on-time and well, and five meaning you’ll essentially do it for them to ensure success.

  • Signing up for the ACT and/or SAT
  • Signing up for advanced placement and/or classes for college credit
  • Filling out the FAFSA
  • Researching private student loans and federal student loans and other options for college financing
  • Researching and filling out scholarship applications
  • Putting together a list of potential schools and narrowing down the list
  • Lining up campus tours and orientation
  • Filling out college applications and writing essays

If your score ranges from 8-17, you are likely not holding your child’s hand much, if at all. If your score ranges from 31-40, you’re not only holding their hand, you’re probably giving them a piggy-back ride. If your score ranges from 18-30, you’re holding their hand but letting them lead. This is where we recommend you remain as a parent in the college preparation process.

It’s a Balancing Act

It’s imperative that students, especially ones who are about to embark on this journey we call real life, have some independence and knowledge as far as what the next phase of their schooling career looks like and how they should get there. However, parents should be a resource when making these important decisions. Not only have many of you been to college yourselves, but in the real world, most people seek guidance from friends, spouses, coworkers and yes, even parents. It’s not a crime to help students find the best route to take, and believe it or not, it’s not going to stunt their growth.

You may be assisting them in getting to college in one piece, but don’t worry, they’ll have plenty of time to fall on their faces and learn valuable lessons all on their own once they’re off at college.


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