Parenting Dilemma: To Assist or Not to Assist in College Applications? Hear What Parents Have to Say

Mother sitting in a chair in front of an open laptop on a desk. Her teen daughter is at her side hugging her.

Parenting Dilemma: To Assist or Not to Assist in College Applications? Hear What Parents Have to Say

Published December 3, 2023

Mother sitting in a chair in front of an open laptop on a desk. Her teen daughter is at her side hugging her.

During the height of college application season, many parents start to wonder just how much assistance they should be giving their students, especially when many of them are on the cusp of legal adulthood. 

We asked parents in our Paying for College 101 Facebook Group and followers of our Facebook page if they thought it was OK to be their child’s “administrative assistant” during the college application process, and they had a lot to say on the subject. 

The vast majority of parents said an emphatic YES, it’s OK to help your student during the college application process, but a few responded with a resounding NO, and a few more said it really depends on the student.

Check out the “yays,” “nays,” and “maybes” below as you figure out how big — or small — a role you want to play in your students’ college admissions journey, then join this and other conversations in our Paying for College 101 Facebook Group.

“Yes, It’s OK To Be My Child’s Administrative Assistant During The College Application Process.”

“These are 16-, 17-, 18-year-olds making decisions involving a huge amount of money. They need a lot of support and assistance.” — Nury A.

“Six scholarships later and the first semester almost over, I’d do it again.” — K Lee W.

“The process has become far more than a stressed-out teen managing five+ college-level classes, a part-time job, and sports can handle. For those applying to highly selective schools or seeking serious merit, a parent’s admin support is necessary.” — Rachel L.

“OMG, yes. I have 3 kids. We navigated it all together. So much to do! The paper work is tedious and can be confusing. The visits were always so much fun, and this is a financial investment…both my money and theirs. Too much at stake. — Jennifer B.

“If you want to save money in the long run, it’s so worth it. By helping them navigate and fill out things properly you can save thousands. That’s an expensive life lesson. I would rather be the assistant and save the money.” — Bethany A.

“Students taking a full load of honors classes [basically] have a full-time job. Add in any extracurriculars and/or a job and they have limited time to manage the very time consuming task of applying to college. If nothing else they need someone to encourage and remind them to check emails and portals.” — Jennifer E.

“No, It’s Not OK To Be My Child’s Administrative Assistant During The College Application Process.”

“I passed on all of the wonderful information and advice I picked up in the Paying for College 101 Facebook Group and the names and deadlines of any scholarships I discovered. I ignored some grumpy attitudes, grabbed some laundry off the bedroom floor and some dirty dishes and water bottles that I usually expected him to take care of. I passed out hugs and love yous. That was my role and responsibility. My son’s responsibility was to research colleges, get letters of recommendation, apply to schools, apply for scholarships, keep his grades up, and take care of the other requirements. He is a freshman this year at his dream school and he knows that he made that happen. I felt that it was important for him to take these steps toward his goals, towards adulthood.” — Jennifer M.

“I’m not doing anything for my son with respect to applications. I’ve read some of his essays if he asked. I made sure I did the College Scholarship Service Profile correctly. He booked college tours. He knows when all the deadlines are. He manages his own application schedule and deliverables.” — Joseph C.

“It Depends On Your Child Whether You Should Be Their Administrative Assistant During The College Application Process.”

“First two kids, I was hands off. The third is applying to top-tier universities and the detail that’s involved needs a second set of eyes. Holy moly… I had no idea the amount of work involved AND playing a sport, AND working part-time, AND serving as president of clubs, AND maintaining perfect GPA, AND having a social life. The discipline involved impressed me more and more. Hug your seniors because they have a lot going on and some are hanging on by a thread.”  — Jennifer M.

“Each child needs a different level of direction and assistance. Each family has different needs. Do what you need to do and don’t feel bad.” — Lisa J.

I’m an independent college counselor. Each kiddo needs something unique. Honor that and you’ll never go wrong.” — Elizabeth A.

To participate in this and other conversations and learn from other parents, follow us on our Facebook page and join our Paying for College 101 Facebook Group

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Use R2C Insights to help find merit aid and schools that fit the criteria most important to your student. You’ll not only save precious time, but your student will avoid the heartache of applying to schools they aren’t likely to get into or can’t afford to attend.  

Other Articles You Might Like:

How to Apply to College: A Comprehensive Guide

High School Is Stressful: A Mom Expresses Concern and Our Community Responds

Should Students Work in High School?

JOIN ONE OF OUR FACEBOOK GROUPS & CONNECT WITH OTHER PARENTS: 

PAYING FOR COLLEGE 101

HOW TO FIND MERIT SCHOLARSHIPS

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