Writing the College Application Essay: The Parent Trap

Writing the college application essay is a family endeavor. Of course, this doesn’t mean that parents should actually write the essay, that job belongs solely to the student. But parents are part of the process and can help tremendously.

Writing college application essays is stressful because …

High school seniors usually don’t have much experience writing personal essays. Then, suddenly, they are told their future could depend on crafting a good one. They also have to decide where to apply, whether or not to declare a major, whether or not to take another crack at the SAT’s and a myriad of other difficult choices.

At the same time, they need to keep their grades up, attend to non academic school and other responsibilities, which makes writing their college application essays even more nerve-wracking. For these reasons and for most students, the first semester of senior year is often filled with anxiety.

Parents SHOULD help with college application essays by…

As parents, it’s important to keep the level of tension at workable levels. Try not to harangue your son or daughter about getting things done; instead, be a partner in the process. Ask them how you can help, either by relieving them of duties that will carve out more time, researching essay requirements for them, getting them either peer or professional help with their essays, brainstorming ideas, being an objective “first reader,” whatever they need. (https://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/twice-the-college-advice/2011/10/18/7-tips-for-parents-and-students-to-master-college-essays) Though your heart might be pounding with nervousness, remain calm. Demonstrating trust that the essays will get written, and that they’ll be terrific, will be infinitely more productive than throat tightening apprehension.

Parents should NOT help with college application essays by…

While remaining cool is important, parents should not leave everything to the student. High school seniors are being asked to do things they’ve never done before, with writing their essays being one of the most critical. They may not know it, admit it, or want to think about it, but they’re going to need help. Parents, therefore, need to take the initiative where appropriate and offer guidance throughout. Staying composed doesn’t mean staying out of it; you need to be a resource for your child, and that can only happen if you educate yourself about the process, and remain involved throughout.

The abridged version…

Parents need to stay relaxed, but not too relaxed, about the college application essay process.

For more personal help with the college application essay, contact Craig Heller at [email protected] or 818-445-4697.







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