7 Tips to Prepare Your Senior for the College Application Process

Mighty Mommy has been through the college application process 3 times. The excitement, the stress, the waiting - it can all be overwhelming. That's why today, she shares 7 tips to help make the experience as smooth and painless as possible for you and your high school senior.

Cheryl Butler
4-minute read
Episode #249

Tip #4:  Help Your Child Pitch Himself to a College

The application gives your child a chance to set himself apart and tell his story, conveying important things that will help an admissions director learn why he would be a good fit for their college community.

Today’s colleges want to feel a sense of passion and commitment from students who are applying for admission.  This gives your child a chance to set himself apart and tell his story, conveying important things that will help an admissions director learn why he would be a good fit for their college community.  If your child has difficulty writing essays or isn’t comfortable with this part of the application process, help him make a list of qualities, personality traits, talents, achievements, and personal experiences that he can reflect on to begin with.  A wonderful resource is On Writing the College Application Essay, 25th Anniversary Edition: The Key to Acceptance at the College of Your Choice by Harry Bauld. 

Tip #5:  Review the Common Application

Beginning the application process can be daunting; luckily, the common application can save you a whole lot of time and effort.  You can click here to find out which schools will accept the common application (almost 500 schools are now members!)  While you cannot begin filling out the application for the fall of 2014 until August 1st, you can preview this year’s application to get a sense of what information you will need.  For example, you can plan ahead for the Extracurricular Activities page which should be filled out strategically; the order in which the activities are listed communicates to the colleges what matters most to your child. Having your child complete as much of the common application as he can over the summer can be a huge time-saver once school is back in session.

Tip #6Complete the Free Application for Student Financial Aid (FAFSA)

The Free Application for Student Financial Aid (FAFSA) is something that you and your student will want to complete together—and there are deadlines involved. The federal deadline for the upcoming school year is June 30, and the state and school deadlines will vary. In addition, some types of financial aid are first come, first served, so it benefits you and your family to get the FAFSA turned in early.

Tip #7: Try to Enjoy the Process

Applying for college is a huge milestone for both you and your child.  As daunting and overwhelming as the entire process can be, it’s something that you and your child can work on together, allowing for some opportune moments to spend some extra time together.  Don’t let the tedious nature of the application process get the best of either of you.  Instead focus on the excitement and joy that lies ahead for your child as he gets ready to begin a wonderful, new journey in life.

For more of Mighty Mommy's tips on practical parenting, check out quickanddirtytips.com/mighty-mommy.

College application image courtesy of Shutterstock.


All content here is for informational purposes only. This content does not replace the professional judgment of your own mental health provider. Please consult a licensed mental health professional for all individual questions and issues.

About the Author

Cheryl Butler Project Parenthood

Cheryl L. Butler was the host of the Mighty Mommy podcast for nine years from 2012 to 2021. She is the mother of eight children. Her experiences with infertility, adoption, seven pregnancies, and raising children with developmental delays have helped her become a resource on the joys and challenges of parenting. You can reach her by email.