3 Questions Parents Should Ask Their Students When Beginning the College Search Process

Monday, December 14, 2020

Do you feel ineffective as you try to move the needle in communicating with your teenager about college? Are you clueless as to WHAT you should even be asking and WHEN you should be asking it? You want to help your student, but you're not sure what resources would even help facilitate conversation. It's okay to realize you need a little help in moving forward no matter where you are in the process. You both are inundated with information, and you're tiptoeing around a moody teenager... it makes sense that you'd be careful as you navigate these conversations! 

Here are 3 Questions Parents Should Ask Their Students When Beginning the College Search Process:

1-Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 

You can ask this question each year of high school. It will push the goals and the view a little farther out each time, and I would be willing to bet the answer would change a bit each time! Let your student interpret this question how they want- they may take it in the direction of a major, a career, a college, a hobby... anything! If they don't have an answer yet, that's okay, too! You can give them some of these categories to daydream about.

2- How do you/can we/should we measure success in the college application process?

I hope this question goes deeper than the surface level. Your student is more than grades, more than test scores, more than a resume. YOU get to help remind them of this when the pressure from peers, grades, and social media really sets in. DO NOT LOSE SIGHT OF THIS! Students are resilient learners. How your family decides to measure success is up to you. If you and your student are on the same page about what success means to you, you will have a clear direction of where to go together. How will you respond if your student chooses a direction that isn't what you expected or isn't what you wanted for them? You have the opportunity to model level-headedness (instead of panic) and patience (instead of nervousness) throughout a stressful time.

3- How can I best support you in this process?

How well do you know your student? By this point in their life, you probably know what makes them unique and what makes them tick. How do they work best, and what do they need from you? Do they need a quiet place to study? Do they need you to remind them of upcoming deadlines and help them stay organized? Be a student of your own student! Watch them! Notice when they need you to back off a little, but also notice when they need you to lean in. It's a dance, but you can learn it! Do they mind spontaneous conversations about college or are they more open to conversations when they can expect to have them in the car on the way to volleyball practice?

Instead of overwhelming yourself and your student with nagging or just totally avoiding the subject altogether, step into college conversations with confidence! Use this conversation guide as a starting point to the college search process!