10 ways to support your child through the University Application process

Seema Kaushik
Jan 6, 2023
Secondary school

College preparation is an exciting phase of life, but it should begin long before senior year. In fact, as per some educationists, Grade 10 is the right time to start laying the foundation for the university application process. If you begin talking about colleges with your teens early, they'll be better prepared in Grade 12 when academic life becomes much more hectic. 

As a parent, there's a lot you can do to help lessen the stress and anxiety that sometimes accompanies applying to colleges.

1. Visit college fairs, ask questions, make comparisons

Universities are often famous for different reasons. While all offer a focus on academics, some may be more appropriate for athletes, others for creatives, for example. 

Getting your teen out there and making them aware of what each college offers is a great way to begin the university application process. 

By attending college fairs and talking one-on-one with college representatives, you and your child can get a better picture of which colleges are better suited to their interests. 

2. Drill down in Grade 11

While it doesn't hurt to begin talking about college as early as Grade 10, there should be a sense of real urgency by Grade 11, which is when most students begin making real career decisions. 

Career guidance is vital at this juncture. That extra year may also allow students time to make up a class they may have missed earlier if it's a requirement of the university in which they're interested.

3. Focus on best fit colleges

Creating a balanced list of colleges is important. As a parent, you can help by initiating conversations about your teen’s priorities and long-term vision for college. 

For some students, these might include geographical location, strong programmes in particular fields of study, size, student population, or even campus resources. Your teen will need to think hard about which factors matter the most to him or her personally.

4. Take college tours

There are no limits to how many college tours you and your teen can take during their last few years of secondary school. Here’s a win-win: combine college visits with your family trips.

Call ahead and make appointments so you have someone in-charge to guide you around campus and answer any questions your child may have regarding the university application process.

Ask your child to reach out to their teachers for recommendation letters

5. Be open, honest about family finances

Will you be footing the bill for your child's tuition, or do you expect them to apply for scholarships and loans? Now is the time to begin talking about money. Doing so may get your student thinking about scholarships, work-study programmes and more. 

Sit down with them and figure out the costs of living on and off campus, eating in the school cafeteria or living at home.

Also read: Benefits of merit scholarships offered in schools for your child

6. Apply for scholarships

Even if you think you'll have enough money to pay for college, it certainly doesn't hurt to encourage your child to apply for scholarships and grants. There are merit-based scholarships for high calibre students, and you can apply for those if you meet the eligibility criteria. It’s best to check the college websites for details for such scholarships. However, if you anticipate applying for a need-based scholarship, you'll want to have your financial information ready.

7. Give priority to universities in your home country

Though your child may attend an international school, they may receive more financial aid by applying for a college in their home country. 

Singapore boasts of some of the top universities in the world, including the National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University, the Singapore University of Technology and Design or the Singapore Management University. Priority is given to Singapore citizens and Permanent Residents.

8. Consider an internship

Students in Grade 11 are at the ideal age to take on a summer internship/ job shadowing. Internships not only give students valuable work and life experience but also look impressive on college applications. 

So, whether your child is interested in computer engineering or theatre arts, encourage them to take on an internship.

9. Check and double-check acceptances

Once your teen submits their university applications by the deadline, you may want to help them monitor replies. 

Make sure they're checking inboxes and voicemails daily, and make it a point to glance through any mail that arrives with a college listed as the return address. 

Missing out on an acceptance letter or email could mean missing important dates, such as orientation. 

10. Don't overlook the importance of recommendation letters

Teachers can write impressive letters of recommendation. Guidance counsellors, athletic directors and pastors can, too. 

Encourage your teen to reach out to adults in the community who know them and who know their character to write letters of recommendation for their university applications.

Once your child has reached secondary school, it's time to begin working on career guidance techniques, and putting the information out there is the most important part.

At GlIS, we have a wealth of resources available to secondary students needing career guidance, including webinars, one-on-one counselling, education fairs and access to school alumni. If you are interested to know more about GIIS, please do not hesitate to contact our friendly admissions team.

Seema Kaushik

Ms Kaushik is the Career Counsellor with the GIIS SMART Campus in Singapore. She has mentored and guided hundreds of students over the past decade to connect with Universities of their choice, write essays and choose subjects which will give them a jumpstart in their higher studies.

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