You’ve spent years volunteering in the classroom, cheering from the sidelines at baseball games, and moving between ballet lessons and doctor visits. So it’s tough to know just how much (or how little) you should be helping your high schooler plan for college. This is the first real adult decision your kid will ever make…and it’s kind of a big deal.

No wonder you’ve got that eye twitch.

There’s an optimal balance for your role in the process. Here’s how you can help support your teen in the most impactful ways possible, without being an overbearing helicopter parent:

  1. Assist with the overall process.

The college admissions process is definitely not intuitive. Your teen doesn’t know what they don’t know, but you can help with the structure needed for effective planning. And you know what? You don’t know what you don’t know, either. Make sure you sign up for my email list and check out the College Planning Timeline checklist for help with that.

  1. Help with calendars and deadline tracking.

Unless your teen is crazy-organized and manages time uncommonly well, it’ll be helpful for you to aid in keeping track of the myriad of dates, schedules and deadlines needed for admissions testing, application submission and all of the little things in between. Here are a few things you should help keep track of:

  • The standardized testing plan (SAT, ACT, SAT Subject Tests, AP exams) and any preparation needed
  • Meetings with the guidance counselor
  • Dates for college visits and campus tours
  • College application deadlines

Check out my 4 Tips for Staying Organized with College Planning post for more support with tracking all of this!

  1. Act as a coach, not a player.

While you’re going to be quite involved in this process, remember that you’re not applying to college – your child is. You should offer guidance, direction and encouragement, but you definitely shouldn’t be directly playing the game. This is, ultimately, your teenager’s admissions process and school choice, no matter how much your legacy at UC Davis might appeal to the admissions officers.Remember to listen to your teen. Hear what they want from the college experience and offer support to help them get to those goals. Keep their excitement up for what’s to come.

And most importantly – don’t panic! The college admissions process is a stressful time for your teen and adding more pressure on top of that would be detrimental. Know that, as long as your teen has a well-balanced list of colleges to apply to, they will get into a college that will be a good fit for them.

The real world is filled with deadlines, complicated forms, scary choices. Know where to draw the line with admissions, and let this be your teen’s first big win!

Not so easy balancing this, is it? How are you involved in college planning with your high schooler? Leave a comment below!

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