Five ways to make college admissions less stressful and achieve better outcomes


Within my experience in college admissions, I have observed parents who use different approaches with their children when applying to college. These range from hijacking the process, to opposing their child’s decision to apply to some or even any colleges, to making it more difficult due to cultural beliefs, to being incredibly joyful and supportive about the entire journey. I promise you that the best approach is almost always for the parents to become the head cheerleaders and let the student manage and own the process.

Here are my top five tips:


  • We live in the land of opportunity, right? So when parents feel that their child can only follow one admission pathway to graduate from selective state and national universities, that’s a mistake. Students can absolutely start at a community college and transfer to a 4-year institution; they can take a gap year – an extra year between the end of high school and the start of college, an option that is becoming increasingly popular; or students can attend a less famous school because that is the place that is the best fit for them. Don’t get wrapped up in what the rest of your community is doing. This will only make you a prisoner of pressure and rumor. Rather talk with your child and find out what they need to plan the most enjoyable and effective route to college.



Start Grande! When you are starting the admissions process, research and visit colleges without prejudging whether the school is either a good brand name or a decent fit. You can start with a big list, but the easiest and least expensive opportunity is to visit colleges in our Bay Area backyard; between San Jose State, UC Berkeley, Santa Clara, Notre Dame de Namur, and USF, you’ll get a terrific sense of the array of possibilities that lie before you. Once you have visited our local schools, you can start exploring out of state colleges (which in many cases could lead to your child qualifying for more financial aid). You can take advantage of any    family trips (with or without your child) to visit new colleges. A new city provides you with exploration opportunities. Once the research and the visits are over, your child can make a list of all of the elements that she is seeking in her top choice college and a more comprehensive search can begin. Your goal is to have a college list in place by the end of junior year.


  • ¡Si se puede! Instead of focusing on the admit rate of any particular university, think of the possibilities offered by any college and share that positive attitude with your child! If he sees that you strongly believe in his abilities, then his application will be powerful and confident. When she notices that her parents have enormous faith in her eventual outcome, she’ll put together the best possible list and be excited about any of the schools who admit her. This is how you get great results with maximum joy.


  • ¡Cálmate! During the application process, try not to get overwhelmed. If it’s all feeling too crazy, make an appointment with your high school counselor and explore a plan to better manage the application process. Remember, your high school counselor is your best ally and she can offer a wealth of information. She may also have information about when your college representatives will be visiting your high school. This can be a great way for your child to learn more.


¡Pachanga time! Any moment that your child has shown interest in particular school or has researched something related to the admission process, celebrate the small milestone. Every acknowledged accomplishment will instill confidence in the entire family. I have seen this truth thousands of times, and since we Latinos do like our pachangas, you can plan the appropriate celebration on, or before May 1st – the national enrollment deadline for incoming freshmen.



Now that you are prepared to create your child’s personalized college pathway, remember to keep a positive attitude. Don’t get discouraged and trust that your child will find the best college fit.

Share with the community your experiences on the college admissions process.


For more info contact Marisela Gomez at