Wednesday’s Parent: Best question for parents to ask to help with college essays

Parents can help students crack college essay writer's block

Parents can help students crack college essay writer’s block

The single best question parents can ask themselves to best help their teens write a college or scholarship application essay is:

Who’s going to that college?

The answer puts into perspective two vital points in composing a killer essay:

  • It’s all about the college-bound
  • And how the college-bound will be an asset to a particular campus

It comes down to what the student offers and wants. To find out, he/she has to do a lot of thinking about his strengths, weaknesses, talents, abilities, interests and desires. Then he has to figure out which colleges will best help him achieve his short and long term goals. Finally, she has to write essays that along with her application convince the schools they want her to attend and/or provide financial awards.

College is a huge investment that pays off big time. For grads it means a better life style via more money earned over a career. Read this to find out how much more. Parents get an unexpected bonus, too. They live longer with healthier lives. Read this to find out how much longer.

Parents can’t expect their child to do their best if he or she is not vested in the college process from application through graduation. So it makes sense for parents to focus their energy on helping their college-bound student get motivated. For general tips read this and this.

To motivate to compose essays often means cracking the hard shell covering known as writer’s block. Writing doesn’t always come easy and many drafts are typical. That’s why it is best to start early when the clock isn’t ticking moments away before deadlines.

The essay is an opportunity to show student strength, maturity and growth and is best written from a position of leadership. Staring at a blank page isn’t fun for anyone so here are six ways for parents to help their college-bound write a super essay:

  1. Creativity is stifled by stress. Give your child time and space to think without pressure.
  2. Distractions impede focus. Provide an organized and quiet place for your child to write.
  3. Unsolicited and unappreciated advice isn’t helpful. Let your child know you are ready to listen and brainstorm should he suffer from writer’s block.
  4. Self-esteem is lowered from being overshadowed. Don’t make it a competition by over-relating your own past history of accomplishments, mistakes or desires.
  5. Over-confidence doesn’t help either. Constant reminders of past glories are more like bragging than inspiring compliments.
  6. A good support team can provide confidence. Let your child know you are available to help but so are teachers, guidance counselors and other admission counselors.

Then sit back, keep repeating the above question, and wait for your child to take the lead when she is ready to own the college process and do what it takes to get in and earn a diploma. He may even let you read his finished essay.

Read Suzanne’s Top 5 Essay Posts for Parents


Wednesday’s child may be full of woe but Wednesday’s Parent can substitute action for anxiety. Each Wednesday Suzanne Shaffer and I will provide parent tips to get and keep your student on the college track. It’s never too late or too early to start!

The bonus is on the fourth Wednesday of each month when Suzanne and I will host Twitter chat #CampusChat at 9pm ET/6pm PT. We will feature an expert on a topic of interest for parents of the college-bound. 

Wednesday’s Parent will give twice the info and double the blog posts on critical parenting issues by clicking on the link at the end of the article from to and vice versa.

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