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Parent Interview: How to start looking for colleges?

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A photo of Aaliyah and her mother with the text, Parent Interview: How to start looking for colleges?

As a soon to be rising senior (scary, I know!), my junior year of high school feels like a lifetime ago. Since I have been home due to COVID-19, my junior year of college has become oddly reminiscent of my junior year in high school. Being home, in my childhood bedroom, has me thinking a lot about my process of applying to colleges.

With all this reminiscing, I recently sat down with my mom, who's sent two children to college, to get her advice for fellow parents about the college decision process as a parent. Here is what she had to say. 

What would you recommend parents of current juniors do?

Know when it is time to help your child and when to give them space. Both my children were very independent when it came to their college admissions processes. The process can already be extremely stressful, so I did not want to add additional pressure on them with my hopes of their acceptance. While there is nothing wrong with helping out your child throughout this process, especially when they ask, remember: This is their journey, not yours.

As a parent, it is easy to want to take control of the process with your input, but that will do nothing but hurt your child in the end. Have faith in their abilities and be there for them when they need you. Your child will need support during this process now more than ever, so be that for them. Help make the most out of their college decision journey.

What are things you did not do that you wish you had? 

Visit more schools with my children. My oldest daughter had us tour almost all the schools she got admitted into. Aaliyah, on the other hand, visited UMass on her own with some friends. My husband and I did not get to see the school till we dropped her off at New Students Orientation (NSO), so I was very worried about sending her there.

UMass Amherst is a very large school over two hours away from home, so I was nervous about sending her away. Now that she is going into her senior year, I am very happy that she decided to attend UMass. I think that touring the school with her during her decision process would have helped put my mind at ease from the start.

If you have the opportunity to, please go tour schools with your children! This not only helps your child but will help you as a parent get a better understanding of where they might be spending the next four years. 

What was really important to get done early?:

Your Federal Student Aid (FASFA). For our family, paying for two children in college was no easy task. We relied heavily upon both the funding from their colleges and the federal government to help put our children through school.

Getting your FASFA done on time, truthfully the sooner the better, will help position your family well to get the most aid possible. Your child’s financial aid packages can be a deciding factor in what school they choose to attend. The sooner you complete your FASFA, the better. It is very important to get this done early.

For high school juniors, these next few months are going to be exciting times. Remember to make the most of your college admissions experience -- I promise you that it will be a memorable one. Best of luck to the class of 2025! Remember to consider UMass Amherst when looking into colleges! 

Topic: 

Life at UMass
Transitioning to College
Why UMass

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For prospective college students, the process of applying to colleges can be very lengthy and time consuming. From narrowing down your applications, writing your college essay, touring colleges, and much more, your college application process can span over a period of a year or even more. Having applied to college more than three years ago, I still vividly remember how much time and effort went into my applications. I wanted everything to be perfect, and this was the only chance I had to make a good impression on these colleges. While admittedly I was pretty stressed out during the majority of the process, I still remember how freeing it was to finally hit the submit button on the Common Application.

Final Thoughts From A UMass Senior

Aaliyah and her friends outdoors wearing face coverings with the text,  Final Thoughts From A UMass Senior.

As I am writing this, December 4th, 2020, it is officially the last day of finals here at the University of Massachusetts Amherst for the fall 2020 semester. For myself, this marks my final day as an undergraduate student here at UMass Amherst. After three and a half years, I can hardly believe that this lovely chapter is coming to a close. While this may not be the way I envisioned the ending of my time here to look like, I feel incredibly happy with the time I had and all the wonderful memories that I was able to create.  

With my time at UMass Amherst coming to a close, here are my final thoughts and advice as I close this chapter.