Prep Your Child for the Journey to College

By Kim Lifton
Wow Writing Workshop

This time of year, every year, many moms and dads with high school juniors (and even sophomores!) start to get nervous about the journey to college. Seniors are either done, or at the end of the college admissions process; some have been admitted to their dream schools, while others were deferred or rejected. College talk is everywhere.

The journey to college can be overwhelming, confusing and distressing. But there’s no need to panic. We can help you get through this process with minimal stress.

Here’s our No. 1 tip for students setting out on the  journey to college: Writing a college essay is all about reflection.

How to Teach Reflection

Despite what you might believe, writing is not the most challenging part of the essay. The tough part comes at the beginning, when we ask our students what matters to them and why. We suggest you help your child explore how they exhibit their most significant traits or characteristics too. That’s the first step toward reflection.

We know that most high school students spend a lot of time thinking and talking about friends, moving out of the house, figuring out life, choosing a career and deciding which college to attend. If you teach your child how to reflect before the admission cycle starts in late spring, you will all be better prepared for the last phase of this journey to college.

The good news: You are more than ready for this challenge.

At Wow, when we help our students reflect and focus up front, the rest of the process moves much more smoothly. Too many students start in the wrong place. They come to us full of ideas about topics, with little consideration of the essay’s purpose.

All too often, students look for activities that might lead to stories, and they waste a lot of time talking about their experiences and their accomplishments. When they do this, they do not answer the prompt, which, no matter how it’s worded, is really asking students to show some insight into those experiences or accomplishments. That’s reflection.

Encourage your child to start at the beginning of the process – a conversation with you. You know what’s amazing about your child; help them figure it out too.

What are you waiting for?

We wrote a book that is full of tips to teach your child how to reflect: How to Write an Effective College Application Essay, the Inside Scoop for Parents. In fact, Chapter 2, Understanding the Prompts, delves deep into this topic.  If you can get your child to reflect, they will be ready to continue the process of discovery – and will be prepared to write those essays this spring or summer.