Hey Fam, It's Application Season! How Can You Help Your Student?

If you’re a parent/guardian/family member, here's four things you can do to support your soon-to-be college student during application season.
Families speaking to University of Miami representative at Preview the U.

Application season can make a student feel like they’re on a highway with no GPS. It’s hard to juggle this entirely new, albeit temporary stage of life while also managing home dynamics, a full class schedule, and extracurriculars.

If you’re a parent/guardian/family member looking for ways to help during this hectic time, look no further. Here are some practical ways you can support a student as they navigate application season.

1. Gather documents for the form frenzy. College applications, the FAFSA form, the CSS Profile, and any other potential financial aid application require a lot of documentation. To help maximize financial aid offers, gather these documents early: tax statements for home and business, W-2s, and information about assets. Since these types of documents are typically not in a student’s possession, it’s on the parent/guardian to have these waiting in the wings.

2. Familiarize yourself with the college application process of today. It’s always a good idea to brush up on the application process for the schools that interest your student. Browse websites. Sign up for email lists. Attend virtual information sessions. Each school likely has different procedures, and they may vary from year to year. Whether you’re a seasoned professional in getting your students off to college, or you’re doing it for the first time, get familiar with the process so that you can all be on the same page.

3. Visit colleges. If you are able, we highly encourage visiting colleges with your student to get a feel for the campus and student body. Campus energies can be totally different from college to college. It is a big decision to spend time and effort in one place for the next four years. The decision deserves proper research if you can make it happen. Check in with your student's high school guidance counselor to see if there are any programs that offer college visits to students who can’t go with their families—you’d be surprised about the options.

4. Ensure the “safety school” application and supporting documentation have been submitted. It’s good to dream big, but it’s smart to have a backup plan. Work with your student to ensure a safety school has been identified, and the application and supporting documentation have been submitted. Don’t know where to start with identifying a safety school? Your student's guidance counselor will be a good resource.

Although not an exhaustive list, these action items will help you empower your soon-to-be college student. Allow them to take the lead, and enjoy the ride!