It’s that time of year when everything’s up in the air--whether it’s traveling, hosting, cooking, or just keeping up with others’ schedules. It’s especially tricky when you have a senior in high school.

So, how can you make the most of this crazy time to make progress with college applications?!

  1. First, (re)establish yourself as a credible source. Pull out the old high school yearbook (that’s right, the original Facebook!) to let them know that you too were in their shoes…but that, yes, you “get” things are different now.

  1. Suggest that the only way to get out of peeling potatoes and chopping vegetables is if they’re doing a scholarship search (and yes, you’d like to see progress before the tryptophan kicks in…)

  1. Find a way to make every conversation about college. Halftime at a football game? Sure. “You know, your chances of making it as a professional athlete are the same as being a performer at half-time is looking like a pretty good investment, isn’t it?”  Macy’s Day parade? Why not. “Did you know that the brains behind those balloons are all engineers and physics majors?”

  1. Have them channel any angst that comes from being home for too long into an essay about a “challenge they’ve gone through.”

  1. Go through the college mail you’ve collected over the years and do a major purge! (Those smiling student pictures start to run together sometimes…) If you’ve got young cousins to entertain, grab some glue and turn those paper scraps into a collage art project.

  1. Let them know you’re excited for their next step, and that they’ll always be invited home for the holidays (but maybe not so welcome to live in the basement indefinitely).

  1. For those questions you always want to ask but can’t, use a relative as a plant. Have a cousin or aunt spring the questions you aren’t allowed to ask, like: “Do you really want to move so far away from home?” or “How much is your relationship weighing into your college decision?”

  1. Excuse them from family time to get one more college application done. Sure, they may have applied to a couple schools--but they’re going to want options!

Helping your student through the college application process doesn’t have to land squarely on Mom and Dad. We can help! Check out these college application essay writing tips, or this guide to figuring out how many colleges to apply to.

Authored by Amy Steinhoff

Amy believes in the power of communities to get things done -- including expanding the promise of higher education. She writes about the crazy ways college has changed and what high school juniors need to be prepared for.