How to Help Your Child Prepare for the US or UK University Application

18/09/202010 minute read
How to Help Your Child Prepare for the US or UK University Application

Are you a parent of a student considering studying at a top US or UK University? Check out part three of our parents guide as to why studying at a top university could be the perfect decision for your child and how you can support your child in achieving admission to their dream university.

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 the first two parts of the series, you can read them here and here. This part is all about how you as a parent can help your child make their overseas university dream a reality.

There is no doubt parents play a major part in supporting their child through the US/UK application processes. While your child is guided by teachers, coaches, careers counsellors and other professionals and mentors, it is you who they turn to for balance – to help them manage their time, their health, their sleep patterns, their diets, their stress and most importantly, their ability to imagine a wonderful life beyond school.

As such, there are many powerful ways parents can help their child as they negotiate the demands of school along with the university application processes. Check out all the great ways we think a parent can get involved in their child’s university admission journey below:

Helping Your Child Manage Their Time

The final years of school can be incredibly busy. There are subjects to select, assessments to negotiate, exams to be studied for and taken. 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! Parents can help by keeping track of their child’s school/exam/activities calendar – the aim being to plan ahead with forethought to prevent any overloaded weeks or unnecessary anxieties.

For example, parents can work with their child’s Crimson Education team to make sure US/ UK application tests are not scheduled in the same week as major school exams or assessments. Taking the SATs during the holidays may be a better option. Thinking ahead about personal essay ideas might help reduce a last minute scramble as to what your child would like to express.

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Supporting Leadership And Extracurricular Activities

Overseas universities – particularly those located in the US - are looking for young people who live full, productive lives. While school exam results, SAT /ACT or UK course specific tests are important, university admissions officers are also interested in who your child is as a person and what they might bring to campus if they are admitted.

Every student has their own personal passions – activities that both build them as a person and reduce the anxiety associated with a busy academic calendar, and it is the pursuit of these passions, and a student’s efforts to use them to grow, share and give back to their community that sets your child apart from other applicants. Perhaps your child started a club or charity that expanded to reach and assist others beyond their geographical area? Perhaps they are talented athletes who initiated a program to introduce coaching and facilities to other children in areas where access to such advantages was limited? The opportunities are limitless.

As a parent, it is your role to support your child in their extracurricular and leadership passions. While there is the line of thought that any time spent away from the study desk is a moment lost, on the contrary admissions officers are looking for students who have a broader view of what it means to be a global citizen. With a parent’s support, students can thrive both in and out of the classroom and as leaders, creators, athletes, musicians and budding entrepreneurs.

Meeting With Careers Advisors And Teachers

School careers counsellors and college advisors are dedicated to helping their students reach their higher education and career goals – but not all of them are aware of the intricacies of the US/UK application process. So as a parent, meeting with them, explaining your child’s goals and letting them know as early as possible that this is the route your child wants to take always results in a more inclusive, supportive process.

Parents can also help their child choose the teachers who they will eventually ask to provide recommendations. Ideally these teachers have known your child for some time and can speak – not just to their academic curiosity and prowess, but also to their contribution to the classroom, their ability to work with a team, to take on roles of leadership and support others in need.

It is important to remember that the academic results already uploaded to UCAS and/or The Common Application already paint a clear picture as to your child’s scholastic abilities – but it is the teacher recommendations that bring your child to ‘life’.

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Helping Your Child Get a Taste of Campus

As the old saying goes – there is nothing like actually ‘being there’ when it comes to getting a true sense of what it would be like to live in a certain location. While the world’s top universities share a reputation for excellence – they all have different personalities, even the eight Ivy League schools feel ‘different’ when you walk onto their individual campuses.

In the past, Crimson Education has run a number of highly sought after international tours – each of them constructed to meet the needs of different students. Tours were available for those interested in medicine, entrepreneurship, science and technology, global diplomacy, climate change ... all of them include campus tour visits where your child can experience their dream universities first hand.

Alternatively a family trip including university visits, campus tours and information sessions are great ways for both you and your child to get a ‘feel’ for exactly what it would be like to be part of that university community. Beyond the information gained, these trips can be true bonding experiences as parents share in the anticipation and decision making process about the exciting next chapter in their child’s post-school life.

Now, in the age of COVID-19, the chances of an international campus tour or a family campus visit holiday is, unfortunately, zero, but why not consider one of the virtual alternatives? During these times, it’s a great idea to huddle around a computer as a family and take some virtual tours of colleges and universities.

While you may not get to experience the sounds and smells of campus, you will almost certainly be able to get a great look at it. Most virtual tours allow you to look around in panoramic or 360 degree photographs, and pick where you would like to see first. They will also feed you information and fun facts about the college, so that you are fully convinced as to why you should prioritise them on your college application list! They might even link you to a message board or contact email, where you can chat and ask questions about your tour with faculty or students as if you were there in person.

Bringing an Open Mind

As a parent, it is great to get involved with your child’s university decision, and helping them plot a path to their future hopes and dreams is very exciting. That being said, it is important to bring an open mind to your child’s choice of university. It is especially unhelpful to limit yourselves to the world’s most selective universities such as the Ivies or Oxford and Cambridge. In fact, for many students other universities are a ‘better fit’.

The Ivies for example are all located on the east coast of America, where the weather in winter is extremely cold. As such, perhaps your child would enjoy the sunshine of California? In this case the private University of Southern California is a great choice – as are the larger UC’s or University of California ‘family’ of universities which includes: UCLA, UC Berkeley and UC Irvine for example.

In regards to the UK, your child might, for example, wish to explore studying in Scotland where the University of Edinburgh is a top choice or the University of Glasgow – established in 1451 - offers one of the richest university histories in the world. Or perhaps they may enjoy life in London, studying at one of the University of London’s family, such as UCL, Kings College or LSE.

The strategists at Crimson Education are dedicated to narrowing a university list for your child – based around a multitude of factors including academics, extracurriculars and most importantly who your child is as a person. Crimson’s high student acceptance rate is largely due to this individual focus, as beyond their strategist’s skill and knowledge as to what it takes to build a stand out application, they also believe in making sure your child gains acceptance to a university where they will thrive and be happy.

It is true that in starting along this road, parents and students need to know that the ‘competition’ will be substantial, but that does not mean acceptance is impossible, in fact far from it. By preparing early, mapping out goals and working closely with the experts, admission to some of the best universities need not be just a dream, but the next stage of your child’s education journey.


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.

Further, we at Crimson are dedicated to making sure parents remain very much part of the student’s overseas study application preparation process; from a family’s initial enquiry or seminar attendance, to the free initial consultation, and eventually the various steps of application planning. Crimson’s Education coordinators, strategists and tutors understand the importance of parents’ input and support and enjoy including them in all aspects of the application process.

Check out our student success page to find more Q&As and case studies about our successful Crimson students and their parents.

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