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10 DOs and DON’Ts as you and your child navigate the College Admission Process

The way in which you support your child during the admission process can help establish their goals as they transition into adulthood.

For many students, their college choice is their first adult decision, and it can come with its challenges. Likewise, it can be difficult for parents to know how to guide their child without making decisions for them. Our advice—as counselors and parents—is to let your child drive, but you can be there to help coordinate the effort and provide support as a sounding board as needed.

At Emory, we understand the challenges families can face during this process. Here are some things to keep in mind as your child embarks on their college admission journey:

DO research colleges together.

Families should start the college search together. Doing so early can pay off because it allows families to break the admission process down into steps across a long timeline, which can make it seem like less work. It can also ensure that your child meets various deadlines throughout this time and stays on track with the process.

Research can also allow your child to refine their college goals and get to know just how they want to make the most of these next few years. In short, researching colleges extensively gives your child time to create the values they want to adhere to as they prepare to embark on their college career. Creating a list of values first will help your child find the institution that best suits them and their needs.

DO discuss restrictions up front.

If there are financial or geographic restrictions that limit the range of colleges your child can consider, discuss them with your child at the beginning of the college search so that they won’t waste time and energy researching colleges that they won’t be able to attend.

DO create a financial plan.

Part of the conversations you should have during this time should be about the financial commitment that parents and students are responsible for. Merit aid might cover a student’s entire tuition or be a one-time award of a few hundred dollars. Look for merit aid early; funding varies according to each family’s unique circumstance. Learn more about Financial Aid at Emory.

Emory University is top ranked for “Great Financial Aid,” by The Princetown Review (2022)

DON’T get sticker shock when looking at tuition.

The costs listed on colleges websites often don’t reflect what families actually pay once merit aid is factored in. It is recommended that families research different options and get to know the ins and outs of tuition, merit aid and financial aid. Learn more about tuition at Emory here.

Emory University is top ranked for “Best Value Colleges,” by The Princetown Review (2022)

DO listen and offer advice.

For many students, their college choice is their first adult decision, and it can be challenging. Likewise, it can be difficult for parents to find the right balance of guiding their child without making decisions for them.

For parents, now is the time to listen to your child’s ideas and help them in this process. It’s ultimately their decision, but you can help them stay on track and on task; present them with a series of options if they ask for guidance. Remember, the college choice is up to them.

DON’T believe that there is only one right college.

Ultimately, the college experience is what the student makes of it. When exploring their options, students often end up placing too much weight on one institution rather than taking the time to determine which school is truly the right fit for them.

In addition to answering common questions about college applications, such as deadlines, essays, and college lists, we provide context and holistic guidance so that prospective students can make informed decisions about this important milestone.

Emory University is top ranked for “Best Quality of Life,” Happiest Students,” and “Best Classroom Experience” by The Princetown Review (2022)

A holistic approach means looking at a challenge from various perspectives. As admissions officials, we have reviewed hundreds of thousands of applications. As parents and former students, we have experienced the application process firsthand. By leveraging our unique experience, we can help students and their parents gain a new understanding of the application process, and hopefully prepare them better for what lies ahead. Watch our Director of Admission explaining the admission process.

DO get involved, but let your child take the lead.

A great way to get involved in the admissions process while allowing your child the independence to make their own decisions is to develop a system to help along the way. As a parent, you might be tempted to step in and complete applications for your child but know that letting them take the lead will pay off in the end.

Touch base with them regularly; scheduling these check-ins will avoid any stress. Choose an open day and time each week and commit to these meetings. A good way to map out this meeting schedule is to adhere to the admissions and applications deadlines. That way, your child can submit materials on time and stay organized. Of course, your child should feel free to bring up college applications or admissions at any time, but this is their prerogative.

DON’T take rejection personally.

We get it: rejection is difficult, especially when waiting to hear back about college acceptances. The truth is that what a student does while in college is more indicative of long-term success than the reputation of the school by itself. It is encouraged that families look beyond brand names when choosing between colleges and focus instead on what matters most to them.

The selective college admissions process should not be taken personally; many times, there are several different factors that are out of a student’s control that inform the admissions process.

DO visit campuses in person or virtually.

Being on campus can help students imagine themselves there while also helping them in making their decision. Prospective students are able to envision what it would be like to attend the school as well as engage in its community. A campus visit also provides the opportunity to explore the surrounding city and get to know the area.

Plan your Emory visit and also take a virtual tour here.

DO cheer your child on!

The college admission process can be stressful, and that stress could put a strain on your child and your relationship with them. Your child may feel uncertain about the decisions they must make, fearful of rejection from colleges, or anxious about meeting deadlines for both college applications and schoolwork.

This is where you come in: as a guide on the side that helps them navigate new journeys. Remember, by investing time in research, decision-making and organization, your child will choose the right college that’s best suited for them—and you’ll be there to cheer them on the whole way.

Quick facts about Emory admission this year

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