The stress! Hit the junior year of high school and suddenly the tension builds! It is time to seriously think about college! Of course there are those irritating standardized tests to deal with but the task list goes beyond that. There are campus visits to attend, college applications to complete and scholarships to seek. There gets to be a lot looming over the heads of our youth (parents too) and many of them just want to bury their heads OR they want to apply to colleges too far, too close, or too expensive.
Particularly when our students aren’t moving fast enough, or we perceive them as too busy or occupied, we want to take the reins and make things happen. This can seem especially doable when letters of recommendation are required. We see this as an area that WE, the good parent, can and should take control over. My thoughts? Bad idea!
Let’s not rob our children of this opportunity to learn, practice and acquire some self-advocacy skills, skills which will prove VITAL for their collegiate success and survival. Now is the time, with Mom and Dad close at hand for ADVICE, to grow in this ability.
Even though it is the student's job to request and collect recommendations, Moms and Dads are EXTREMELY important in the process! Our children need help and advice, whether they know it or not, on a multitude of levels. Parents are needed:
* In brainstorming the different possible sources for such recommendations. Also, being sure they are legitimate.
*In creating an outline of the different points their child would appreciate stressed within the letters. This could be different for each person asked. Also, though you do not want to push your agenda on the person who has agreed to write the letter, many people appreciate some direction because they want to give you the best letter possible. Just have it on hand, letting them know it is available if needed.
*In gathering the necessary contact information. Phone #s and emails.
* In encouraging and advising on the appropriate approach to the source and the professional follow-up.
* In helping to set up a time table for when they will contact their sources.
* In following up with your child to keep them accountable and on target.
Parents are extremely important in the task of acquiring Letters of Recommendation, of course, the child has never had to think about such a task before. However, our work is in the background, gently pushing our children to the foreground so that this can be a mystery no longer, their confidence and self-esteem build, and they gain more of that crucial skill for adult living……..Self-Advocacy!