Kaplan Test Prep Survey: Colleges Recommend Parents Limit Their Involvement in the Admissions Process, Noting Some Parents Exhibit “Extreme Behavior” to Help Their Kids Get In

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Press Contact: Russell Schaffer, russell.schaffer@kaplan.com, 212.453.7538
Twitter: @KapTestNews, @KaplanSATACT

New York, NY (March 22, 2017) — College admissions officers offer this advice to parents of college applicants: Let your child sit in the driver’s seat. According to a recent Kaplan Test Prep survey of admissions officers at over 350 colleges across the United States, 75 percent say parents should only be “somewhat involved” in the admissions process, stepping in only when their child asks them*. Only one in five (18 percent) recommend parents be “very involved,” guiding their child every step of the way; just one percent say be “extremely involved,” suggesting parents take care of everything themselves. On the other end of the spectrum, only six percent say parents should be “not very involved,” and less than one percent say “not involved at all.”

As one admissions officers explained: “Parents should be very involved in coaching and advising in the actual decision making, but it’s also important for students to be the ones most engaged in the process and in contact with the admissions officers.” Another admissions officer shared: “Students need to make the transition into college, where they’re going to need to be independent, so we appreciate when students take ownership.” Other admissions officers indicated that an ideal area for parents to be involved in is the financial aid process.

But when has a parent overstepped their boundaries or violated norms in the college admissions process? Admissions officers offered a long list of things NOT to do, which could inadvertently harm their child’s chances of getting in. Among the anecdotes:

  • “I once had a parent call pretending to be the student, but I had met the student before so I knew how their voice sounds. I called the student’s cell phone after to suggest that her mom not pretend to be her and call other schools because that’s fraud.”
  • “We’ve had parents make their students sign waivers so that the parent can speak to anyone on campus regarding them.”
  • “We have plenty of ‘helicopter parents’ who are overly involved. We’ve had parents who wouldn’t let the student speak in meetings even when we tried to engage the student specifically.”
  • “There have been parents who’ve called requesting to change their child’s major because they don’t want their child in that major.”
  • “In some cases we’d get duplicate records due to parents and students both trying to complete parts of the application without talking to each other.”

“At Kaplan Test Prep, we believe parents can play a constructive role in their child’s admissions process, whether accompanying them to campus visits, making sure they meet application deadlines, and helping them fill out necessary financial aid paperwork. But in other areas, it’s most beneficial for parents to let their child take the lead, including deciding where to apply, letting them speak for themselves when talking with admissions officers, filling out their own applications and ultimately deciding where to enroll,” said Cailin Papszycki, director of college admissions and K-12 programs, Kaplan Test Prep. “The college admissions process will have its ups and downs, so it’s crucial that parents and their kids establish good communication lines with each other, which could result in better outcomes and even turn it into a fun, bonding experience.”  

For a short video illustrating the survey’s findings, click here. And to read a blog post on Kaplan’s college admissions blog College: Admission Possible, visit here.

To interview a college admissions expert at Kaplan, please contact Russell Schaffer at 212.453.7538 or russell.schaffer@kaplan.com.

*For the survey, 354 admissions officers from the nation’s top national, regional and liberal arts colleges and universities – as compiled from U.S. News & World Report – were polled by telephone between July and August 2016.

About Kaplan Test Prep

Kaplan Test Prep (www.kaptest.com) is a premier provider of educational and career services for individuals, schools and businesses. Established in 1938, Kaplan is the world leader in the test prep industry. With a comprehensive menu of online offerings as well as a complete array of print books and digital products, Kaplan offers preparation for more than 100 standardized tests, including entrance exams for secondary school, college and graduate school, as well as professional licensing exams for attorneys, physicians and nurses.  Kaplan also provides private tutoring and graduate admissions consulting services.

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