Preparing for college is one of the biggest decisions that you have made to this point in your life. While taking ownership of this process is something that you should do, it is great to know how involved parents should be.

The reality is that the college process can be more complicated than most families realize when they start their search and adding the recruiting process can add to the complexity.

The average student doesn’t have a complete understanding of the college and university landscape and it can be a lot of information to digest in a short amount of time! Not to mention, if you are an athlete, there is probably little free time when you aren’t in school, playing sports, doing homework or sleeping so finding a few hours can be a challenge.

This is why parents are in a good position to help out with many important aspects of the college search. This doesn’t mean you can hand the project off to your folks and check in when it’s over! You each have a job to do, and defining the roles between you and them can be incredibly effective.

For example, the division of responsibilities might look like this:

Campus Visit: Mom handles the travel plans and sets up the activities for the visit, takes the official tour along with her son but hangs back and lets him ask questions, visits the bookstore so he can spend a few minutes wandering the student union alone, goes to the financial aid office during his admissions interview, and they both meet with the coach (if there is recruiting at play).

Applications: Student completes all her online applications and asks her dad to do a round of editing. He reads through them carefully and keeps his notes on a separate piece of paper being sure to not make changes directly in the application. Dad’s feedback is thorough yet general—he doesn’t rewrite sentences for her, but he does suggest places where she could explain further or be more concise.

It’s a collaborative process, and communicating clearly about when and how your parents can help will make things run more smoothly.

If you’re a parent, don’t buy into the myth that your son or daughter has to manage this process alone or else they aren’t truly ready. Being supportive and helpful isn’t the same as being a helicopter parent. The stakes are too high, and the stress is too great for a person to handle this project alone. By remaining positive, organized and mindful of when to step in and when to step back, you may just find that this process brings you closer to one another.

Remember you and your parents are on the same team and both want the best college for your situation!

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