8 Tips for Helping Your Child Through the College Application Process

college application
Getty Images

Applying to colleges can be a stressful process, one that can feel like the most important thing in high school students’ young lives. 

There’s no one perfect way parents can support students applying to colleges, but there are some general things to keep in mind as college application season kicks into high gear. 


When your student is a junior in high school, get them thinking about the application process by narrowing down what colleges they want to apply to. 

Ask them questions about what they want to study, how far away from home they want to go, whether they’re looking for a big school or a small school, and more.

Help them think about which factors they want to prioritize and which ones are nonnegotiable.


While some colleges seem perfect on paper, visiting in person will give your student a better idea of whether it’s a good fit for them and whether they want to go through with applying.

If schedules allow, it may be helpful to visit campuses during the school year to see what campuses look like in action. 

See if you can visit multiple colleges on one trip to save time and money. 


Regular decision, early action, financial aid, honors programs – there’s a ton of deadlines that come with applying to college. Help your student keep track of deadlines by helping them set up an at-a-glance calendar so they can see everything due at once in an organized way.

But don’t overstep. Your student knows that that application is due next week. Breathing down their neck about it won’t do anything except stress them out. College is a step towards adulthood, and your student needs to take accountability for deadlines.


Financial aid forms are super important but can also be super confusing. If there’s one step in the college application process to do alongside your student, it’s this one. Sit down with your child to help them fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form and other financial aid forms to ensure all information is accurate. 


Does your student have trouble with standardized tests? Find them an SAT or ACT tutor. Is your student having trouble with their Common Application essay? Look into a writing coach. Is your child going to be a first-generation college student, and is the whole process overwhelming for everyone? Consider talking to a college admissions counselor. 

Via New York Family