How some parents ‘help’ their kids get in to NJ colleges … and wind up hurting
Are you hurting the chances of your child being accepted into college?
A 2017 Kaplan Test Prep survey of admissions officers at hundreds of institutions across the country suggests parents need to take a back seat during the admissions process and let their children do most of the driving.
Seventy-five percent of respondents said parents should just be "somewhat involved," stepping in only when their child asks for help.
At Montclair State University, undergraduate admissions director Jeff Indiveri-Gant has picked up the phone to parents pretending to be their children. He's also seen parents influence their child's personal statement on an application.
"In this process, it's important for us as admissions professionals to get a sense of what the student is all about," Indiveri-Gant told New Jersey 101.5. "So if they're not advocating for themselves in the process, I think that maybe parents are doing a disservice to students because it could be a real teachable moment for them."
Indiveri-Gant said a parent's involvement should be geared toward teaching their children how to have conversations with officials and staff on a college campus, instead of doing the "heavy lifting" themselves.
"This is a big step for any family; this is a real change to the dynamic," he added. "Though it's a difficult transition to make, it's one that I think parents need to be aware of so they can start being proactive about helping their student become that independent adult."
Parents need to go from being coaches — calling all the plays — to being cheerleaders for their children, according to officials at Rowan University.
Undergraduate admissions officer Dr. Albert Betts knows some parents have actually filled out applications for their children. It's obvious when the 'social security number' field features the parent's personal info.
And during in-person interviews, which are required in certain situations or programs, he's seen parents answer every question that's addressed to the student.
Betts said these actions likely wouldn't affect an admissions decision, but he's definitely more impressed when a student calls on the phone and requests a scholarship, rather than a parent.
"Too many freshman students come in and flounder because they never learned to do things for themselves," Betts said.
Based on survey respondents' anecdotes, Kaplan Test Prep said parents can play a constructive role by:
- Accompanying your child on campus visits
- Making sure application deadlines are met
- Helping with financial aid paperwork
More from New Jersey 101.5:
Contact reporter Dino Flammia at firstname.lastname@example.org.