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How To Support Your Senior During The Application Season

Stephen Friedfeld, PhD

How to support your senior during the application season

by Stephen Friedfeld, PhD


The fall application season can be an extremely stressful time for seniors. In addition to completing college admissions applications, they are also occupied with school work while maintaining their involvement in extracurricular activities. (And for some, avoiding senioritis!) With their various responsibilities during this time, how can you – as the parent or legal guardian – best support your student and enable him or her to be more successful in the process?


Here are three simple tips to help guide you in this role.


Do not micromanage. While we certainly encourage you to be actively involved in determining the school list and ensuring that your senior is on task with necessary assignments, the application season is not the time to enter “helicopter parent” mode. Most seniors desire a good amount of autonomy during this process as well as trust from their parents concerning their preferred school choices, major(s) of interest, and so on. Exerting too much control over decision-making may drive up students’ stress levels. They are the ones who will be going off to college; you will need to allow them to develop into independent young adults. AcceptU counselors help students on this journey and work with students to ensure they continue to make smart, informed decisions.


Keep a watchful eye. On the other hand, if you are the type of parent who tends to use a more hands-off approach and thinks your senior will be better off with less help from you, the application season could be the appropriate time to monitor their actions and progress a bit more closely! Seniors who are given too much independence or are known for their high level of maturity can still slack off and feel overwhelmed to the point where they become unmotivated or in doubt concerning their choices. AcceptU counselors often notice these changes in disposition and will be sure to report them to you. If your senior changes disposition, sit down to have an open conversation – voice your concerns and expectations, encourage them to de-stress by participating in activities that they love to get them back on track.


Let them write their own essays. The personal statement and the supplemental essays are critical components of college applications where seniors get to fully express who they are and what they have accomplished to admissions readers. It’s okay for you to assist by giving your initial input or brainstorming topic ideas, but the writing process must be led by the student under the guidance of their AcceptU counselor. Give your seniors breathing room to develop their writing skills and self-understanding. Otherwise, as the old adage goes, too many cooks in the kitchen spoil the broth. Conflicting and unconstructive feedback could cause seniors confusion, not to mention they might lose confidence in their writing, so best to let them take the wheel.





Stephen Friedfeld is the co-founder and COO of AcceptU. He received a BA from Cornell University, an MA from Columbia University Teachers College, and a Ph.D. from Rice University. Prior to founding AcceptU, Stephen was an Assistant Dean of admissions at Cornell for four years and an Associate Dean of graduate admissions at Princeton University for six years. Stephen is an IECA Associate Member.

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