5 Tips for Parents in the Application Process

Shanell Cartagena Dopson, director of undergraduate admission, shares some tips for helping your child navigate the exciting, but often overwhelming, college search process.

December 7, 2021

Shanell CartagenaHaving engaged with hundreds of prospective college students and their families during my career, I understand and appreciate the time you have spent helping your child navigate the exciting, but often overwhelming, college search process – especially with the added challenges of the pandemic.

Once your child has developed a list of schools to apply to, work together to ensure successful submission of the applications. Below, please find five helpful tips for the application process.

Know Deadlines 

Create a spreadsheet to keep track of all application and financial aid deadlines for each college. (Download a template.) This spreadsheet will also help you keep track of the required documents for each institution. Be sure your child requests transcripts and recommendations from teachers and the school counseling office well in advance. Remember, it is better to have your child follow up with colleges to be sure all documents have arrived on time, than to have a college requesting missing documents.

Discover Visit Opportunities

Encourage your child to discover the visit opportunities available for the colleges and universities that are top choices. Research virtual/on-campus opportunities (especially tours and/or presentations) and register to attend. Find out ways to interact with current students and staff. From drive-thru tours to on-campus visits,  Assumption offers many visit opportunities throughout the year

Choose Recommenders Carefully 

Students will want to choose recommenders who know them well. Some of the best letters of recommendation come from people who can attest to a student’s character. Consider teachers who have had your child in class as well as in extracurricular activities. This allows the recommender to speak to your child’s academic potential as well as character. If your child does not feel a strong connection to a teacher, find a coach, work supervisor or volunteer coordinator who can describe your child’s gifts, talents and strengths. The transcript and application provide admissions offices with many facts, while the letters of recommendation bring your child’s personality to life in the eyes of another. This letter of recommendation request form will help your child provide recommenders with appropriate information for the letter.

Encourage Creativity in the Essay 

Most college applications require students to write an essay. If your child has not already begun working on the essay, start now! Encourage your child to be creative with the essay. The essay provides students with the opportunity to share their uniqueness with college admissions offices. Your child doesn’t have to be the first to write about a topic – just make it authentic and memorable for the reader. This is our favorite part of the application because we can make connections with students based on their own personal reflections and it provides an opportunity for them to shine a light on their unique strengths. Once your child is satisfied with the essay, proofread it for grammar issues only. Let your child’s voice shine.  Read tips on writing the college essay.

Take a Back Seat 

The college search process is one that will take you and your child on a journey of change. Your child is learning how to navigate adult life and will soon be moving on to college. Allow your child to take responsibility for submitting applications and requesting documents from schools or testing agencies. With your support, your child will begin to learn how to manage time and priorities - crucial skills for a successful college experience.

I hope this advice is helpful in this exciting stage of the college search process. We are looking forward to reading applications and getting to know the newest class of Assumption Greyhounds – perhaps your child! Assumption’s Early Action II deadline is Wednesday, December 15.  Please do not hesitate to contact anyone in Assumption’s Office of Admissions if you or your child have any questions about the application process. We are here to help!

Shanell Cartagena Dopson
Director of Undergraduate Admission
Assumption University