How To Support Your Teen Through University Applications

University applications can be one of the most stressful things your teenager will have done at that point in their lives. Competitive schools demand an ever-increasing repertoire of qualifications from students that extends far beyond just grades and academics nowadays. For many students, university applications can seem complicated, confusing, and downright terrifying sometimes, since schools often lack appropriate support and guidance. 

Many parents desperately want to help their children through this time but are equally confused about the process. Well, fear not — here are five guidelines for helping your child through their university applications. That way, ideally this part of your child’s life is as least stressful for them (and for you!) as possible.

Encourage Your Child To Research Prospective Schools Well

When beginning the process of applying for university, one of the most important things for your child to do is thoroughly research a variety of schools that they might be interested in. While some students might be content with simply applying to schools nearby, there are a wide variety of factors and considerations to think about when choosing schools for your child to consider. 

Different universities have different program offerings, different sizes, different opportunities, and resources, as well as different reputations and qualities of education. For example, if your child is interested in pursuing a career in nursing, they might want to choose a school that offers a BSN to DNP fast-track program. 

This research isn’t just important for choosing which schools your child is interested in, either. Many schools ask applicants why they want to attend their particular institution. Being able to identify what makes a school compelling and unique makes an application much more compelling by demonstrating to the university that an applicant has actually taken the time to discover how they can take advantage of a school’s offerings.

Make Sure Your Child Has a Timeline of Important Deadlines and Dates

One of the most stressful parts of the university application process is keeping track of a variety of deadlines for different universities. Schools will have varying early admissions deadlines, regular admissions deadlines and will require a large range of components that take time to assemble that your child will have to take into consideration. 

You should encourage your child to put in the effort of sitting down and figuring out when things need to be done for different schools all at once and make a timeline of when they need to ask for reference letters, request transcripts and test scores, and submit their application and supplementary components. Having all your deadlines in one place takes so much stress away in the long run, for both you and your child. 

As for designing their timeline, you should encourage your child to allow for ample cushion time when requesting reference letters and transcripts from their school. This will help them to avoid excessive anxiety later on down the line. 

Have Your Child Take Mandatory Standardized Tests Early

Most American universities will require applicants to write either the SAT or ACT standardized tests and submit their scores as part of their application. These exams are difficult and can be extremely grueling, spanning several hours long for one exam session. In order to achieve the best score they can, you should encourage your child to take their required standardized tests as soon as possible, even as early as the fall of their Junior year of high school. 

Taking standardized tests early allows for chances to take the test again to improve their score if your child wants to, as well as providing time for additional studying and tutoring. It also has the benefit of getting a very stressful part of applying for university out of the way before university applications start in full swing since there are other parts of the application to worry about down the line.

Help Your Child Find Resources for How To Write a Successful Application

University applications have a lot of different components. Aside from grades and test scores, most universities will also require your child to detail their extracurricular activities at school, any awards received, as well as write a personal statement and answer a variety of questions about themselves and their goals. 

It’s extremely important that your child is well-equipped to write compelling responses to these questions. While obviously spelling and grammar mistakes should be avoided, these questions are unlike what students are used to answering in school and many applicants don’t know how to write a personal statement or other college essays. Finding your child resources for how to best write their applications can be crucial for their admissions success later on.

Try To Help Your Child Avoid Stress (As Much as Possible!)

Although university applications are an inherently stressful process, at the end of the day constantly worrying about their applications isn’t going to make it any more likely for your child to be admitted. Try to help your child not to worry about parts of their application they can’t control, like past grades or their history of extracurriculars, and try to maintain a healthy, positive atmosphere around the subject of university applications. 

While all parents want to help their kids, it’s important that you recognize that applying for university is one of the first steps your child is taking to becoming an adult, and you need to allow them a degree of independence in making their own decisions and even their own mistakes. Once applications are submitted, that’s it. Try to help your child stop worrying too much about them and celebrate that they’ve completed such a significant milestone in their life instead. 

Applying for university is an incredible part of a young person’s life all on its own, and both you and your child should be proud, no matter what the outcome. Once your child has a decision, you should also be sure to help them prepare for the next step in their university journey, as well. By following these five tips, hopefully you can help your child navigate the difficulties of university applications more effectively, ensuring they’re off to a great start in their life!