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  • Writer's pictureSarah Bloodworth

Hard to Swallow Pills For Parents of College Applicants

Updated: Jul 25, 2022

Whenever I get the chance, I love to help college students with scholarship and application essays.

It's a passion project. I just love it.

Working with soon-to-be college students also means I inevitably work with eager (and anxious) parents of those college students.

For those parents, my service isn't really to write. My service is to ease their mind that it's going to be okay, and help take some of that overwhelming logistics off their plate.

Here are 3 hard to swallow pills I wish more parents knew:

Pill 1 💊 You can't write your child's essay for them. It won't work.

It’s tempting, I know. Most parents don’t wake up one day and decide they’re going to write their kid’s essay for them but once they get the draft, they’ll edit a sentence...then a paragraph...and then it snowballs. Likewise as a writer, I make it clear that my job isn’t to write for their child, it’s just to help them find the words themselves.

The whole point of a college or scholarship essay is for the advisors to get to know the applicant. They don’t expect EVERY college applicant to be the next Shakesphere, they want to hear stories. Granted, they expect those stories to be as grammatically correct as possible, but that’s where I would come in.

At the end of the day, the most important aspect of an essay is authenticity, and by controlling their words, you’ll be at risk of robbing them of that key element.

Pill 2 💊 Be aware of deadlines, but don't drive yourself crazy working ahead.

Most of the time, kids want to apply to quite a handful of colleges - each one with unique requirements and different deadlines. And it’s easy to get dizzy over deadlines -- frantically trying to pump out applications as early as possible.

A rushed application is very obviously rushed. It’s best to be aware of deadlines, and give your child plenty of time to not only write the essay / supplemental questions, but also get through a few rounds of edits with a counselor or hired editor/writer. If the early application deadline is in November, start the application process in September at the very latest. That will give you plenty of time to take your time in the process.

As a way to project manage, check out this Trello board template I’ve created for clients I’ve worked with as a way to keep track of what essays for which college are completed, under review, and submitted. If you or your child has never used Trello before, they have a bunch of Youtube tutorials.

Pill 3 💊 Forget everything you learned about applying to college. Things have changed and continue to change.

I graduated in 2019, and things have even changed since then. Working with students all the time keeps me abreast to all the changes, but still! College expectations are evolving all the time, especially as we continue to navigate the Coronavirus Pandemic. I know that's as stressful for parents as it is for their kids applying (maybe even more stressful in some instances), but release everything you know and focus on supporting them.

Is your kid looking into college applications or scholarships? Give me a shout! Would love to help. I never charge to chat.

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