empoweredThe college application process is a daunting one; it requires research, diligence, many drafts and decisions.

It certainly may be the most overwhelming and time consuming process of your teen’s young life.

The trick to feeling empowered and not overwhelmed is to manage the process and not allow the process to manage you.

Here are a few ways to take the reins of the college admissions process and get a successful and thoughtful outcome that thoroughly aligns with your child’s passions, interests and lifetime goals.

1. Start early

If there is one thing I could not stress enough is that a parent of a college bound high school student should start early. This means that the discussions about college should start in the freshman year of high school.

This would include a dialogue about goal setting and discussing what college looks like for your child. Being mindful that this could all change is important. During preliminary discussions leave every option, opportunity and idea on the table. Is

Harvard in your child’s future? Write it down as an option!

2. Create goals for each option

Narrow down your options to about 2-3. These should be rather specific but don’t have to be specific schools. For example they could be an in-state university, an Ivy League, top arts or technical school. For each option, line up the steps and metrics that need to be taken to create more opportunities for your son or daughter. (Use Google or the Princeton Review as a tool.)

3. Ramp up on extracurricular, arts, sports and volunteering activities

Freshman and sophomore years is the time for your child to meaningfully engage with his or her extracurricular activities.

College admissions officers can tell the difference between a padded resume and someone who has deeply engaged in extracurriculars, sports and volunteer activities. It is best not to specialize, even if a sports team or art is your child’s passion. There is always room to pick up a Sunday shift at a soup kitchen, join United Nations or work on the yearbook.

Diversification and passion is the key to creating a well-rounded resume to be sure to impress college admissions teams and eliminate the stress of clamoring to pad a resume your child’s junior or senior year.

4. Vocabulary, power posing and math, oh my!

As much as I would like to have standardized testing chucked as a metric altogether, it is here to stay and like it or not it, the way your child performs on this one-day test is a metric through which he or she will be evaluated.

There are several ways, however, to minimize test-taking anxiety and prepare early for success. Practice power poses to get your student psyched for all of his or her testing.

Get in the practice of timing your child taking tests on a weekly basis and begin learning vocabulary as a family.

Taking the novelty out of high stakes testing by practice and reclaiming your power, through poses, meditation or getting psyched, will lead to better outcomes and a happier teen.

5. Accept your lack of power

You can do everything right and still not have the exact outcome you want in terms of college admissions. You need to accept your powerlessness over the outcome and instead focus your efforts on how you can maintain sanity and control over the process.

College admissions is about creating the best product you can and then trusting the process to create the best outcome for your child. By doing these simple steps, planning, goal setting and aligning your child’s passion with the process, you can reclaim your power in this overwhelming process.

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