A Parent’s Guide to Helping Teens Organize College Applications

You made it through the newborn days, handled the toddler and teen years with style, and now you’re facing the arduous task of helping your son or daughter apply for college or university. Does the fun ever end? Now is a good time to start the year off on the right foot so you avoid a last-minute panic looking for all the necessary documents.

If you and your child have begun laying out the mountains of paperwork regarding college and university applications, you may be feeling overwhelmed. There is so much more involved than just filling out an application form! Typically, most colleges and universities require application packages that can include the following information:

  • Report cards (all grade reports from eighth grade on)
  • Transcripts (a copy of unofficial transcripts from the high school guidance counselor)
  • Test scores (PSAT, SAT and ACT)
  • Awards and honors (broken down into several areas, such as art, sports, music)
  • Letters of recommendation (from teachers)
  • Resumes (targeted, based on different college standards)

Some items, such as letters of recommendation, can take time to gather. Encourage your son or daughter to provide a current resume or sample letter to those from whom they are requesting letters of recommendation. This may help speed up the process.

As a parent, you can best support your son or daughter in their pursuit to continue their education in the following ways, according to Shellian Heredia, school counselor in the Greater New York City area:

  • Help organize the student’s college application process by keeping a binder/planner to track their child’s academic progress, interest and college applications.
  • The binder/planner should be sectioned off by grades (9, 10, 11, & 12), credit requirements (how many credits are needed to be promoted), required exams (including state assessment, ACT & SAT).
  • There should be a list of your child’s top three college choices, including information such as admission requirements, application deadlines, cost and priority.
  • Both you and your child should monitor the progress and review requirements to ensure they align with admission requirements and deadlines.

Professional organizer Yvette M. Clay says, “Toss any irrelevant paperwork! Once you have decided on the schools you will apply for, toss informational brochures or documentation which come from other schools. I have seen many clients keep everything and it just confuses the process!”

Supporting your child through the college application process is one more way to help guide them on their path to adulthood. Best of luck!

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