Navigating the College Applications Process

Is your child college bound?

Tracey Columns

The school year is drawing to an end and for many of you, this is a very good thing. (Yep, boomers raising children – it’s happening all over the place.) For some of you, summer means no dragging a teen into the day when the alarm goes off, car pooling to manage, and student progress to track. Hopefully there’s a vacation thrown in for good measure.

Then there are those parents who have children stumbling through the confusing morass of the entire college decision/selection making process. Some kids are simply trying to wrap their heads around the whole idea of college – is it for them? Others know college is in their future but beyond this, they are like little deer in the headlights, stalled about how to even begin the process. Meanwhile, parents are contemplating a second mortgage and wondering if college is even a good “investment” anymore. 

Sound familiar? If so, I have the book for you, Navigating the College Applications Process: A Complete Guide for Students and Parents*, by Jessica Peyton Roberts. A Higher Education Consultant who was educated at the University of Notre Dame and Harvard, Peyton Roberts has a unique perspective, as a once upon a time student and now a teacher herself. Written in a friendly, clear, direct, and wonderfully humorous style — her approach appeals to kids and reassures parents — Peyton Roberts has managed to demystify the entire college decision/application conundrum.

To be clear, the primary focus of this book is to guide children and their parents through a systematic and manageable approach to college. (More on this in a bit.) If, however, you are questioning the wisdom of your child attending college or perhaps taking some time off after high school, I think you will also find this book quite useful. Not only does Peyton Roberts hit this particular nail right on the head in her opening notes, but the rest of the book is such a clear roadmap of what a child can expect from the college experience that it will help everyone understand the realities of these difficult decisions. 

For those of you who believe college is the best choice for your child, this guide is a valuable resource … even if you think it is too soon to be contemplating this decision. (I was talking to a friend of mine about this book and she balked, saying “But he’ll be a high school freshman in the fall. Tell me we don’t have to think about college now?) Sooner is much better than later and thanks to the systematic progression Peyton Roberts has created, she makes the entire process is far less mind-boggling!

Here’s a sampling of what this guide addresses: the college search and application strategies; financial aid, scholarships, and personal financing; writing the dreaded college essay; and prepping for an academic interview. Each chapter is broken down into numerous sections that effectively present the material, while not overwhelming parents nor, more importantly, students.  The book finishes up with critically important information on top study habits, tips for considering studying abroad and, best of all, ideas for making the transition from high school to college. 

Perhaps my favorite part of this book are the worksheets Peyton Roberts has included for students and parents alike. Talk about clarity and ease! These step-by-step worksheets are designed to identify every possible consideration, stumbling block, and reward about the college decision. Your student will feel comfortable completing them and my guess is that you may not mind doing your homework either!

Wondering if investing in a college education for your child is the right way to go? Begin by investing in a copy of Navigating the College Applications Process: A Complete Guide for Students and Parents. Both you and your student will be glad you did.

*Available to download from Aim High Writing College Consulting,

(Click here to return to The Second Half online archives)