Managing Your Kid’s College Search

Published by Wendy Nelson on

Time for LeadershipManaging your kid’s college search is not as scary or as invasive as it may sound.  This will be my first post in a multi-part series all about managing your kid’s college search.  I have a background in project management and I firmly believe that the role a parent should play in their son or daughter’s college search is similar to that of a project manager.

In the project management world, the project manager leads the team working on the project.  The role of the project manager is to organize the project into defined phases and tasks, motivate and inspire the team and keep them on track towards their end goal.  The project manager does not do the majority of work on the project.  At times, the project manager may jump in and lend a helping hand to ensure that a critical task gets done on time.  The project manager helps the project team keep moving by removing any obstacles that impede project progress.

In a perfect world, your son or daughter would manage his or her own college search.  However, few 16-18 year olds are really ready for this task.  Managing all of the tasks, deadlines and decisions during the college search is not easy, especially for a high school student juggling classes, homework, athletics and other school activities, and maybe even a part-time job.  As parents, we have experience fitting many deadlines and additional responsibilities into our daily lives, but this is a new concept for most teens, and one they aren’t ready to jump wholeheartedly into.

In my own household, I found this to be the case with my oldest daughter.  Left to her own devices, she would have avoided the topic of college until the last possible moment.  Given the importance of staying on track to be ready for college applications in the Fall of senior year, avoidance really isn’t an option.

If your student is not one of the rare kids who have the skills and ambition to manage their own college search, then managing your kid’s college search is the best way to make sure things go as planned.  Looking back at the project manager description above, your role will be the following:

  • Organize the College Search into Defined Phases and Tasks
  • Motivate
  • Inspire
  • Keep Your Student on Track
  • Make Sure Critical Tasks are Done on Time
  • Remove Obstacles

In my next post, I will start applying the phases of a project to the college search process, starting with the Discovery phase.

In the meantime, I’d love to hear your feedback?  Do you believe your role is to manage the college search process for your child?  Have you already played this role with a son or daughter?  If so, what was your experience?


1 Comment

Tara Dowling · August 14, 2016 at 3:13 am

The project manager role is a great way to describe it. Parents often want control over the process but don’t effectively communicate to their child that they understand the difference between process/project and the ability to choose a college in the end.

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