I received an email from a parent last week asking about how to find volunteer opportunities for her son. Here’s an excerpt:
“I was thinking about volunteering him at a hospital or maybe at a local soup kitchen.”
It’s coming from a good place. But wherever that kid ends up, he won’t actually be “volunteering”; he’ll just be doing what his mother told him to do. And no college admissions officer will be moved by a student
doing things that his mother organized for him. Kids impress admissions officers by showing the initiative, skills and drive to locate and secure those opportunities on their own.
A parent can certainly help when a student asks for it. Making suggestions or recommending steps he can take are completely within the rules. But doing it for him is out of bounds in the college admissions world.
Marilee Jones coined the term “pronoun abuse” when it comes to parents inserting themselves in their kids’ college admissions process. If you say things like, “I’m organizing,” or “We’re applying,” or “Our applications,” it’s likely that you’re doing things for your kids that any college-bound students can and should be doing on their own. Stick with “He’s organizing,” and “He’s applying,” and “His applications.”
So parents, watch your pronouns. The more your student does for himself, the more successful he’ll be getting into college, and the more prepared he’ll be once he gets there. Let your pronouns be your guide.