November 16, 2022



(Illustration by University of Rochester/Julia Joshpe)

Parents and guardians of students heading to college are more involved than ever in choosing the right school, and that’s what their kids want.

By Robert Alexander, Dean of Undergraduate Admissions, Financial Aid and Enrollment Management for Arts, Sciences and Engineering, University of Rochester.

A recent survey of 2,300 parents by consultancy firm EAB found that three out of four parents want direct communications from colleges. Additionally, 48% of students named parents or guardians among their top five most trusted sources of information about choosing a college, an increase of 11% from 2020. These trends have continued to grow. increased over the past two decades, so it’s clearly not a fad.

Of course, parents and guardians want to be involved. The college admissions process focuses on parents’ two most important assets: their children and their money.

University admission is not a prize to be won, but a match to be made.

But how can parents engage in meaningful ways while letting their child know they are in control of the biggest decision of their young life?

At the University of Rochester, we have recognized this trend of increasing parental engagement and have attempted to communicate directly with parents and families of prospective students. While the student must take the lead in researching college options, preparing their application materials, and certainly writing their own college application essay, parents can support and encourage their children throughout. of the university admissions process.

If you feel like you’re constantly bothering your child about college, set aside a time each week to talk about it so he doesn’t feel harassed for the rest of your time together.

Ask your child about their interests, both academic and outside of class, and plan visits to the college near you. Even if these schools aren’t the best choices, visiting nearby colleges of different sizes and types will provide a better idea of ​​what questions to ask and what to look for when touring the schools at the top of their list. Parents can bring needed perspective by raising issues their children may not think about, such as:

  • Campus Safety. Ask how the college or university keeps the campus safe, both in terms of safety and health protocols. Don’t just talk to staff, ask students. Every college in the country is required by law to publish safety statistics.
  • Allow the university. Perhaps the most anxiety-provoking and confusing part is determining the cost of a particular college, as there can be a discrepancy between the listed price and the net cost after financial aid. Colleges are required to have net price calculators on their websites. The more specific information you enter (about family income, assets, number of kids in college, and your student’s academic performance), the more accurate the estimate you’ll receive. Once your student is in high school, help them file the FAFSA to apply for federal and state financial aid, and follow other school-specific instructions for applying for all possible aid. FAFSA forms must be submitted at the time students apply to college.
  • Results. Beyond a world-class faculty, an array of academic programs and modern facilities, ask how one college hones the skills of its students to prepare them for life and career after graduation. diploma. Learn about career center resources. You can even request data on outcomes such as graduate and vocational admission rates and earnings ten years after graduation. Find social networks of alumni and parents of current students online, such as Rochester’s Meliora Collective, which can be a great resource for questions and answers.

When it’s time to start filling out applications as part of the college admissions process, ask your child to think about what makes them an interesting person. Remember that colleges are not looking for a single perfect archetypal student, but rather a diverse array of interesting students in different ways. Helping your student see themselves from your perspective can give a clearer picture of the story they want to tell in their essay or short answers, in how they determine which teachers to ask to write letters. of recommendation and in the subjects he raises during an admissions interview. .

It’s also important to keep how you communicate in perspective. What might appear to be a reasonable suggestion on your part could be construed as an attempt to resume the process. Here are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind.

  • Keep an open mind and gather solid information from credible sources. Trusted sources will never charge you for advice. They typically include websites that end in .edu or .gov, high school counselors, and nonprofit entities whose websites end in .org, such as the College Board and the National Association for College Admissions Counseling (NACAC).
  • Focus on your student’s growth and developmentnot about opportunities to fill pages on a resume with activities you think colleges want to see.
  • Don’t worry about a magic number of schools to watch or apply for. Everyone is different.
  • Don’t add pressure or anxiety to get into “good schools”. This is an exciting time of discovery and self-realization in your child’s life.
  • Remember that the “best fit” school for a particular student will offer the right combination academic programs, student life, and experiential opportunities, such as community engagement, research, and study abroad.

The University of Rochester Admissions Office has created an online guide for parents and students called Your Path to College, designed to be a roadmap to success. It provides a clear guide to pursue studies in a selective college or university.

Remember that college admission is not a prize to be won, but a match to be made. Ultimately, where students go will be less important than what they do to get the most out of their college experience.


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Key words: college admissions, robert alexander, thought leadership

Category: Voice & Opinion