Should parents help their kids with college essays?

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Should parents help their kids with college essays?

Parents should be involved in the admissions process to a certain extent. The trick is knowing what that extent is, of course. Frequently I just read a poll in fact, where incoming college freshmen were asked whether their parents were too involved, involved enough or the kids would have liked them to be more involved. And about 35% of kids wanted their parents to be more involved in the process. So parents often wonder to what extent they should be involved in this process. And if you think about the application process, there are really two major components to it. One is the detail work, and the other is the personal work that the students need to create themselves. So the students need to write their own essays. It's very important, because admissions officers read 1000s of student essays every year. They know when the student has written it. They know when an adult has written it. So it's really important that kids are writing their own essays. That being said, it's also really important that someone take a look at them. That they're being edited to help them, to guide them, to find typos, to say, I don't know what you're doing here. The perfect people for that are perhaps the high school English teacher. They do a lot of that. Or if you have high quality college counselors, they're the ones to do that in the high school. And they can give great feedback to students on how to improve those essays. So there's the component of the application that needs to be 100% done by kids. There's another component thought that's really sort of the busy work part of it that can be maybe calling and setting up tours of universities. That sort of thing. Filling out paperwork. And I think it's fine if parents are participants in that. And frequently students really appreciate it. Kids don't typically love setting up appointments or setting up interviews or setting up tours. So they might very much appreciate having a 45-50 year old administrative assistant who lives in their home take care of a lot of that grunt work for them. So it's not a bad idea for parents to be involved in some of those sorts of things. I think a really important thing is for parents and kids to have a good conversation about that before you're in the crunch. To really say, I'd like to help you out, son or daughter of mine. What can I do to help? Do you want me to set up the travel arrangements? Do you want me to take care of those kinds of components that would be helpful to you? And hopefully students will say yes. And parents can be really a good support for kids then.
TEEN, Education, Applying to College

View Robert K. Cooke, MEd's video on Should parents help their kids with college essays?...


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Robert K. Cooke, MEd

Upper School Director

Robert has been in K-12 education for thirty years; for sixteen years he was a high school history and social studies teacher, teaching subjects such as AP US History, Western Civilization, World History, Economics, and Anthropology. His school administrative career has been equally varied, serving as Director of Activities at a large public high school, and a Middle School Director and Upper School Director at independent (private) schools in the Midwest and California. Robert earned his Bachelor's Degree in History from Carleton College, and his Master's in Education from Claremont Graduate University. He is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS), and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD). Robert has served on school accreditation teams in the Midwest and California. He has two children, one of whom is an acting and English Literature double major at a large urban university on the East Coast, while the other is a high school junior in Los Angeles.


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