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How to Help Your Child Manage Their Time During Their US or UK University Application

OCT 23, 2020 • 13 min read

Are you a parent of a student considering studying at a top US or UK University? In part five of our parents guide to US or UK University applications we take a look at how you can help your child manage their time and limit procrastination. Check it out below!

Welcome back to our blog series helping parents decide why studying overseas at a top US or UK university is right for their child, and how to make it happen. If you missed them, you can check them out below:

This part follows on from our third part, and is all about how you as a parent can help your child manage their time during crunch time for university applications. Lets get started!

The final years of school can be incredibly busy. There are subjects to select, assessments to negotiate, exams to be studied for and taken, and potentially many other commitments. As a result, many students and parents think that including overseas university applications to their ‘to do’ list only ‘adds’ to an already crowded school schedule.

We believe that while the idea of negotiating two educational systems can sound overwhelming, it can be done – and with great results!

Further, parents can play an overwhelmingly important role in this task. Read on to find the key ways we think parents can chip in to help support their child manage their time effectively while they prepare for US or UK university applications!

Start Early

Want to know one of the best things you can do as a parent to boost your child’s chances of acceptance success? Get ahead of the game and start early!

The best university applications are always the ones that have had the most amount of work put into them. As soon as your child thinks they might even be vaguely interested in studying in the US or the UK, start to get the ball rolling. Start researching universities for your child, start looking into the tests involved and get familiar with the overall application. Putting the work in now will save great stress in the future.

So, how early is “early”?

If you are from the Northern Hemisphere, we recommend that students begin the process at least before the spring semester of their penultimate (junior) year of school. If you are from the Southern Hemisphere, we recommend you get started at the latest during the summer holidays before your last year of school. Of course, it is preferable to get started well before these times, probably around 2-3 years before the application is due. You can read more about when we think you should be starting each aspect of the US admissions process here.

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Check in Regularly (But Not Too Much)

Checking in regularly is important for making sure your child is on-schedule.

Every child is different, and each needs a tailored level of support. Some might be low maintenance, only needing the occasional “how are you going”. Some might want to give weekly, or daily updates of their progress. It is important that you strike a balance and not check in too regularly, or else you may make your child feel anxious.

Also, don’t get too stressed if you check in to find that you are getting slightly behind schedule! Trust your child, and most importantly, ask if there is anything you can help them with if they start lagging. You are in this together as a team.

Draw Up a Roadmap

It is always best to have all of the members of the family on the same page when it comes to university applications. That's why we recommend drawing up a visual roadmap or application checklist with all the tasks to complete and sticking it to the fridge for the whole family to see.

This way, there can be no surprises, and the entire family can plan together. This is how the university admissions process should be, and one that often results in the most successful applications.

As a sample, take a look at our timeline which will go through what is for both the US and UK university application system with a rough roadmap of when tasks should be completed, your very own application checklist and a list of important application deadlines. You can download it here.

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Eliminate Distractions

Parents should take some responsibility for eliminating distractions in their child’s study space. Whether they study in their room, the dining table or some other space; doing your best to ensure that your child gets some quiet time to study is important. If you suspect that your child might be getting distracted by any TVs or computers, have a conversation with them and ask whether it might be best moving electronics away from the study spaces.

Do not let your child get away with so-called “multi-tasking”. Doing or watching something else, such as a basketball game or movie at the same time as your child is studying has been proven to be ineffective. We are sorry to say that Lebron James is not a great study partner.

However, some kinds of distractions might be positive, in particular, group study. Working with a group of passionate, like-minded students can help your child understand topics you may not grasped during their class. Your child can also ask other students questions or for assistance with specific questions they may need help on.

Encourage Study Breaks

Helping your child manage their time does NOT mean encouraging them to study for hours-on-end every day with few study breaks. On the contrary, taking breaks remains vitally important to efficient study. They give your child’s brain some time to relax and absorb information before cramming more facts and figures in.

Your role as parent should instead be to try and make sure they aren't taking too many breaks. Encourage them to plan their breaks, and execute them as planned, depending on how they like to study. Perhaps try using the Pomodoro technique, which may help your child to accomplish more in a limited amount of time with an organised system of short, regular breaks. You can read about that here.

During the age of COVID-19 and the tendency to get ‘cabin fever,’ it may even be beneficial to encourage your child to take their breaks away from screens (such as phones, computers and TVs), and in a part of the house where they don't normally study. Better yet, encourage them to go for a quick walk.

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Leave Time for Recreation

Parents must understand that it is your role to ensure that your child is continuing to like a healthy and balanced life amid the immense amount of study and work to be done for US or UK university applications.

Perhaps one of the most important things you must encourage your child keep up during the busiest time of year is regular exercise. As they say, a healthy body is a healthy mind. Even if it's just encouraging them to have a walk around the neighbourhood or shoot some hoops, this will do wonders for your child’s livelihood.

Additionally, both the US and the UK university application process requires students to participate in extracurricular activities, which cannot be safely neglected in favour of study or essay-writing.

Further, if you plan to apply in the US, universities want to see that you are an all-rounded individual. They not only want to see extracurriculars that show your child’s talents in a particular area of study or helping the community, but also what hobbies and activities they like to do in their spare time. For example, your child could be a diamond-ranked gamer, a social media influencer on Instagram, or just passionate for any sort of hobby - the universities want to hear about it, and they want to see that they have been supported in their passion during their final years of school.

How Can You Support Your Child?

We hope the above points show how you can help support your child manage their time while they take on the challenge of US or UK university applications.

For more information on how you can help as a parent, check out Oliver’s story, including how he got into Rice University and his parents’ advice for other parents of students looking to follow suit.

You can download Oliver’s case study here.

Crimson Education is the world’s leading university admissions support company helping students navigate the US and UK university application process. We assist you to find your best-fit university, create a personalised roadmap, ace your standardised tests, craft the perfect essay, build candidacy through extracurriculars, and more. Check out our student success page to find more Q&As and case studies about our successful Crimson students.

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