The college application process is confusing in itself without parents further complicating the process. Sadly however, between our hormones and the generational gap, miscommunication that leads to your parents doing your college apps may also see them morph into one of the following nightmare categories:
1. The Helicopter Parent
In movies, they are the stereotypical Asian parents demanding straight As and a future Ivy pedigree. In real life, they can be absolutely terrifying. Such a rigid parent-child relationship can breed resentment, which is unhealthy in itself, but will also probably set you up for a future you do not want. There is no point in going to Harvard for pre-law when your heart is set on environmental policy. You may get lower grades because your heart is not in your studies, or never advance in your career because you don’t have the passion for it, and even take away the spot from a student who really did want to study pre-law there. They may also try to equate your schooling with theirs and bring in the “when I was in school, it was done this way” commentary. In a case like this, it is recommended that you behave in a matured manner and discuss it with them, calmly explaining why your future is yours to decide on. It will be a difficult conversation, but the future awaits.
2. The Pushover Parent
The exact opposite of a helicopter parent, these parents are so blindly in love with their children that they will literally fill out the application — for whichever school their child wants. After all, “poor dear” is so busy studying in her senior year (read: being bratty). Every senior has 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week and 365 days in the year. If other students can do their own applications, you can too. It is another case to be taking help from your parents along the way, but completely leaving it to them is a bad idea. After all, the college wants to get to know you, not your parents, just as it will be you and not your parents creating a legacy walking the hallowed walls of the college you do finally go to.
3. The Overly-Helpful/Involved Parent
You lucked out and got a parent in the perfect middle ground who is just there for emotional, informational and financial support, which is great. But as with any other parent on the list comes the big con of the parent taking over the process under the pretext of just giving you a “little help.” Yes, the parent knows best, but if you’re babied right up until college, you’re going to have issues with so much sudden independence (read: unclogging toilets.) Besides, they won’t always be there, and when the time comes for post-grad or job applications, you’ll be left frazzled and clueless.
4. The Parent Who Didn’t Go To College
So you got a leg up in the admissions game because you’re a first-generation student, and while you’re very thankful to your parents, you also want them to trust you to know what you’re doing? This can be a delicate situation to handle, because your parents just want the best for you. Sometimes their worries may be baseless and misguided, such as tension about financial aid, because while they may be used to the idea of loans for tangible, materialistic things like homes and cars, they may not be used to the thought of paying for a service (education). Other times, they may be insecure due to their lack of a college education and try to cover up by showing that they can do your work just as well. But here, too, you have to let them know that you are now a responsible, mature adult — and back up your words with your actions.
5. The Know-It-All Parent
This last kind can be confused with the others and they do indeed have many of the characteristics of an overly-involved or helicopter parent, but these parents are mainly known for their information-based support. Unfortunately, this means that the can get annoyingly on your case about absolutely everything. Was today the last day to submit the Common App? You can bet your (less than) perfect GPA they will have known for days – and have been on your case about finishing it for that long too. Oddly, this kind of parent can pay off in the event that you’re applying to ten colleges none of which have shared applications or submission deadlines. However, while it is great to have someone always there as a safety net, this is not real independence, and we all know what happens when you go to college a molly-coddled teen. Really, learn how to unclog a toilet before heading off to college. You’ll thank me for this, I swear.
So there you have it; If your parents fit any of these stereotypes, you know what to do. Happy college apps season!