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Articles / Applying to College / Is It OK for Parents to Contact Admissions Offices to "Check in?"

Nov. 1, 2018

Is It OK for Parents to Contact Admissions Offices to "Check in?"

Is It OK for Parents to Contact Admissions Offices to "Check in?"
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The college admissions process is often fraught with stress and anxiety, sometimes driven by the fact that admission offices say they haven't received all of your application materials, or confusion over deadlines and other issues. Often, this requires a check-in with the admissions office to ask questions, inquire about whether documents have arrived or resolve technical glitches. But in these situations, who should reach out to schools — the parent or the applicant?

Students, Take the Lead

Many parents want to help their college-bound children and take some stress off them. However, it is you — the student — that needs to take the lead in the process of your college applications, including if you have questions before you submit your application as well as after you apply.

"The process should be driven by the student," explains Laurie Kopp Weingarten, cofounder of One-Stop College Counseling in Marlboro, N.J. "Once in college, the student won't have their parents on campus to check that they are doing their homework, studying effectively or going to sleep at a decent hour. This is a great time to start becoming responsible and more independent."

Kate Coffman, vice president of admissions and financial aid at Franklin College in Franklin, Ind., agrees that students need to be the ones who contact the colleges where they are applying when they have questions about their applications.

"I would encourage the student, not the parent, to call to check if all documents have been received," says Coffman. "Some colleges have application portals that will show the application status including missing documents, but students should always check their emails first, as oftentimes an auto-generated email is sent if the college is missing materials."

Caveat: Parents Can Take the Financial Aid Reins

An exception of when parent(s) should call the college rather than the student is when the questions involve financial aid issues.

"Often, parents are not comfortable having students handle this issue — teens may not be aware of the family's financial situation, and they have little experience negotiating," notes Weingarten.

Cutting the Apron Strings

Some parents may struggle with the idea of letting their students handle these "check-ins" with admissions offices, but since many college-bound students will soon be moving out of the house, it's a good time to begin trusting them to make these connections on their own, advises family counselor Anna Corrigan.

"It's hard to cut the apron strings, but the only way to prepare a student for the independence required of college life is to start before they leave the house," she says. "If they make mistakes when handling things on their own, that's actually okay. We learn from our mistakes and move on."

Written by

Elena Loveland

Elena Loveland

Elena Loveland has been a writer and editor covering higher education and college admissions for 18 years and is the author of Creative Colleges: Finding the Best Programs for Aspiring Artists, Designers, Dancers, Musicians, Writers, and More. Creative Colleges has earned recognition in the College Bound Teen, the Washington Post, the San Francisco Gate and U.S. News and World Report's Annual College Guide. Loveland has spoken at the Independent Educational Consultants Association and the University of the Arts, as well as several high schools about college admission for creative students. She has worked for the National Association for College Admission Counseling as editor of the Journal of College Admission and for NAFSA: Association of International Educators as editor-in-chief of International Educator magazine. As an independent journalist, Loveland.s work has appeared in numerous publications such as American Careers, Dance Teacher, Hispanic Outlook on Higher Education, International Educator, Pointe, Teen Vogue, University Business and the U.S. News & World Report's Annual College Guide, among several others. She has a master's degree in English and has been an adjunct instructor at three higher education institutions. Loveland provides private college admissions consulting to families upon request. She lives in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.

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