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Three Tips for Parents of Grad School Applicants

Our friends at Accepted share just how much parent involvement is TOO much!

I’ve been working in graduate admissions for almost 20 years so I have witnessed this trend firsthand: Parents are playing a much larger role in the application process these days than they used to.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – parents can provide a lot of much-needed support (financial, practical, emotional) for their kids during the admissions process; but I cringe when I see parents overstepping their bounds, and attempting to control their children’s actions and outcomes.

How much involvement is TOO MUCH involvement for parents of applicants? Check out these three tips:

  • Make sure your child is in the driver’s seat.

When you take the lead in the admissions process, you’re essentially telling your child: “I don’t think you have what it takes to manage this process yourself.” And what you’re telling the school is: “My kid isn’t competent or ambitious enough to apply to school himself.” You can help your child apply, surely, but make sure that’s what you’re doing – helping them, and not the other way around.

  • Your child’s voice should be the sole voice of the operation.

All communication with the school should be between your child – not you, the parent – and the school. Likewise, the voice your child uses to write her application essays should be her voice and not yours. And it should go without saying that this advice relates to interviews as well. Help, guide, coach and edit, but please never speak for your child.

  • Help your child deal with disappointment.

Be it a rejection or a poor score, a parent needs to understand the role they play here. First, your child is the one experiencing this distress, not you. By showing your disappointment, you will only make your child feel worse, not to mention potentially preventing your child from continuing to move forward. Instead, allow your child time to express disappointment, provide the appropriate amount of comfort (you know your child best), and then encourage your child to persevere.  Suggest that your applicant explore alternatives, and examine the factors he or she can change to improve the outcome in the future. Play the role of the motivational coach; don’t play the blame game.

Not sure you can effectively guide your child through the grad school admissions process (in a balanced, non-pushy way, of course)? Browse our catalog of services to access professional guidance today!


This article was originally published on the Accepted Admissions Blog.

By the way, students who use Magoosh GRE improve their scores by an average of 8 points on the new scale (150 points on the old scale.) Click here to learn more.

One Response to Three Tips for Parents of Grad School Applicants

  1. ching June 11, 2015 at 11:07 am #

    Hi, i am final year engineering student . My CGPA is 3.32 .
    I am worried is it possible to get good universities in US with funding
    for graduate research assistance…… please let me know as soon as possible

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