Involving Your Parents in the College Search: Four Ways They Can Help without Hovering

You’ve got your college-search resources lined up: University websites, your school counselor, SuperMatch, viewbooks, college fairs, and even Facebook. But here’s one more to add to the list: your family.

No, you don’t want your parents to write essays for you or call the admissions office repeatedly, but there’s still a lot they can do. Here are four ways to get your family involved in the college search process:

1. Take them along for the ride.

You don’t have to take your parents or your 12-year-old brother on every campus tour, but be a sweetheart and at least take them on a couple. They’re interested in this next phase of your life, and likely feeling anxious about how you’ll get along without them. Seeing a campus in action is the best way to determine proper fit, and you’ll be grateful you took them along when they notice things you missed (two pairs of eyes—or more—are better than one!).

2. Set up an application review taskforce.

You need to be the sole author of your application, but there’s a lot to be gained from having someone double check your work. A parent can make sure you’ve filled out all the right forms, check the deadlines, and provide constructive feedback on your essays.

3. Make college a regular topic at the dinner table.

Talking about the upcoming transition is essential. Discuss what you want to major in over dinner, or review a pro & con list about your top three colleges while waiting for your little brother’s basketball game to start. Ask for input and advice, and let them know you appreciate their counsel. Also, be sure to ask if they have questions for you.

4. Figure out those finances!

Even if your parents were college students years ago (and especially if they weren’t!), there’s a lot of financial aid lingo to learn. By studying the rules together and looking frankly at your family budget, you and your parents can make a realistic financial plan. The earlier you start looking at the numbers, the better.


This article was written by Sarah Engel

Sarah Engel is a staff editor for Sarah writes extensively on the topic of undergraduate studies and the college search process.

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