How to Work With Your Parents When Building Your University Shortlist

Learning how to work with your parents and/or guardians can be essential to building your university shortlist. Here are some top tips to help you work together effectively.

Leaving home, possibly for the first time, to study at university is a tremendous step towards independence. And it can feel like most of the research and application process falls on your shoulders.

But it's important not to forget the significant role your parents/guardians can play in helping choose which university is best for you.

Your parents’/guardians’ own life experiences and adult perspectives can guide your university decision-making. This will help to ease some of the pressures that you may be feeling during your final year at school/college.

The application process is different for every family. But topics such as; your parents’ past experiences, geographical knowledge, and financial circumstances can all be useful areas to guide your next steps. So this week, we’re showing you 5 key areas where your parents/guardians can support you.

There are also, undoubtedly, quite a few challenges to working with your parents. ☺️

But learning specifically how to work with your parents is an essential part of this process. So first, we’re going to share a few useful tips on making your conversations about university more effective.

Useful tips on how to work with your parents/guardians

From country to culture, all parent-child relationships are different. However, sometimes it can feel like getting useful and objective advice is tricky.

Your parents/guardians may give you lots of advice from when they went to study at university. But this may have been a long time ago, and things are definitely very different now.

Or, you may find that you are having too many discussions and it is becoming overwhelming. This is especially true when you have lots of competing deadlines in your final year of school.

But the key to working effectively with your parents is to keep your discussions relevant to your interests and your ambitions. Here are a few tips to consider when you are talking to them:

  • When to have college/university discussions. Constant talk about your future can, at times, feel overwhelming. Your parents should understand that there needs to be some boundaries about when the right time to chat is. For example, dinner-time discussions could be a time to centre around other things in your life like extra-curricular activities or your hobbies.
  • Listening: It's a two-way thing. Be mindful of what the other person is saying. The best way to listen to advice is to be patient, relax and think about what you are hearing. Try not to consider everything you hear as final, but instead, let your parents’ advice complement and enrich your own feelings about your university research.
  •  Honesty is the best policy. Tell the truth about your issues and concerns. If you aren’t feeling great about something, tell your parents/guardians. Having objective and honest conversations with your parents lay the foundations to your application progress.
  • Remember, it’s your decision. It may seem obvious, but sometimes parents/guardians might forget. Ensure that you are studying what you feel is right for you personally. Your parents’ role throughout this process is to support your choices. So make sure that you are happy and comfortable with your university programme/course, its location, and the campus experience.

We hope that you’ll be able to keep some of these tips in mind when you are having conversations with your parents/guardians about choosing your university shortlist.

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Don’t forget, you can discuss your BridgeU shortlist with your parents. Login to view your university matches and discover lots more information about courses and programmes.

5 Topics that your parents can help you with:

So now we've covered how to work with your parents, let's look at some areas where your parents can give you guidance.

These topics are designed to help keep your discussions from drifting off-point, while also taking advantage of your parents’ know-how.

1. Financial Restrictions

This is one of the most important topics to discuss with your parents. Finance can also be one of the most influential components in your application process altogether.

Your parents may be able to contribute, either partially or fully, to your tuition fees, living expenses or accommodation costs. So, it’s essential that you take your parents advice into account as you consider what’s realistically affordable.

It’s helpful to have conversations after you’ve researched the full costs of the university and the location. It’s important that any financial conversations you have with your parents are informed by accurate information.

Did you know?

You can compare tuition fees and additional information by previewing universities, courses and programmes on your shortlist. Login to discover more.

2. Your parents’ experiences

If your parents/guardians went to university, you might find asking them about their experiences helpful.

Keep in mind that things were probably quite different when they attended university, so try to keep your conversations based around what they enjoyed the most. Or ask them what mistakes they made or opportunities that they missed.

Nowadays there are tons of extra factors to consider. Experiences like virtual learning, online applications, and even coronavirus precautions didn’t exist when your parents went to study.

So remember to keep discussions centred around general topics.

Talk to your parents/guardians about their social experiences or extracurricular activities. Maybe ask them about what qualifications they gained from their studies. Or potentially ask what it was like for them leaving home for the first time.

3. Give them the important dates

Your parents can be super-handy and paradoxically, sometimes a bit annoying with reminding you about what you’ve got coming up.

However, sharing with them the most important dates in your application process can really take some pressure off your shoulders when planning your application journey.

For example, they might be able to help you plan your calendar so you can tackle your school work deadlines and enjoy your extracurricular activities or social life without the stress of impending applications.

Don’t forget to give your parents/guardians all the relevant and important dates to help them keep you accountable.

Mention events such as standardized test registrations, financial aid deadlines, interviews, college visits (and/or online open days) and entrance exams. This way you’re ensuring they can keep track and stop you falling behind or forgetting anything.

4. Geographical restrictions

You might have your heart set on a huge move. But remember, your parents may have a slightly better understanding of realistic destinations and world travel.

They can also give insight into the hidden costs associated with living away from home.

A few return flights per year from some locations can add up to a hefty bill! So consider how close you are to your family. You might not want to fly too far from the nest–some students experience homesickness in their degree or programme!

Your parents may want to come and visit colleges with you. Currently, most open days are taking place online. If your parents have the time they should attend these with you.

Attend BridgeU's UK university showcases

UK universities will be presenting in one of the two showcases on Thursday 5th and Tuesday 10th of November. Make sure you don't miss out by registering below.

You’ll get a chance to ask them questions about campuses, entry requirements and your experience during COVID, plus any other pressing questions you have.

5. Proofreading your submissions

Your parents can provide you with additional support by lending an extra pair of eyes to your application process with the essays and personal statements you’ll likely need to write.

When working with your parents, spend extra time to explain what each piece of writing is for. Take suggestions to improve the readability and grammar of your writing.

For example, students writing Common App essays are asked to demonstrate a story-telling ability and syntax is key to successful writing.

Although you probably don’t want to admit this, your parents will probably know you better than anyone else. They will give you suggestions on whether you’ve communicated your personality through your writing.

Note: Be aware! Admissions officers can tell when an essay is written by an adult. Ensure that you aren’t letting your parents/guardians write for you.

If your tone of voice is inconsistent, it can result in your application being rejected.

Let’s be honest–the next few months are a crucial period for you in your decision-making journey.

But by following some of the tips we’ve shared in this post, we hope you can start to have open and informed conversations with your parents/guardians.

Learning how to make the most of their expertise and knowledge is key to finalising your university shortlist.

More informed conversations will, in turn, create the foundations for a strong and successful university application. Keep an eye out for more posts on this topic to support your next steps and inform your decisions.

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