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The college admissions process can be exciting, stressful, and mystifying for students and parents alike. There’s the anxiety over grades, test scores, college rankings, finances, and the more subjective questions of fit and preference. As a parent, how can you nurture your child’s dreams—whether they be ivy covered quads, athletic achievement, or a gap year of adventure and personal growth—while managing your own hopes, expectations, and worries? As a student, how do you prepare yourself, academically and emotionally, for gaining admission to, and then choosing, the college of your future?

Karrie Shroyer, a mother of two who spent eight years guiding her children through college applications, a gap year, and a transfer, has devoted herself to helping other parents navigate this daunting process. A member of The Minnesota Association for College Admission Counseling, the National Association for College Admission Counseling, and an accredited Independent Education Consultant, Karrie offers her college counseling services through her organization Thinking College. Thinking College holds monthly meetings for parents to share resources and learn from Karrie’s expertise, and offers other helpful resources through the organization’s blog and website.

At Yellow Parachute, we are always looking for ways to better support the dreams and passions of the students and parents we work with, so of course we jumped at the chance to sit down with Karrie.

One of Karrie’s top tips? Whether you’re freshman just relieved to make it through your first year of high school, a senior preparing to begin college in the fall, or the parent of any college-bound high-schooler, use what is left of this spring and summer for reflection, research, and preparation. With tests perfected and college essays drafted, students can enter the school year feeling more grounded and prepared for the whirlwind of this exciting, life-changing process.

Here are a few actions parents and high school students can take to prepare themselves for the college admissions process. While we’ve organized this list by years, Karrie reminds that there is no one perfect timeline for a student’s journey to college. Take these suggestions as they are useful to you and your family, wherever you are in the process.

FRESHMEN: The first year of high school is nearly complete. Congratulations! Both parents and students have learned about what it takes to be in high school.  Here are some ideas for continuing the learning process and getting a head start on the college process.


JUNIORS:  You’re coming to an end of a big and busy year. Take a moment to celebrate all your hard work, and then consider making time for the following four steps which will help prepare you for success in the college admissions process, and make your senior year a lot less stressful.


Thanks to Karrie for taking time to share this great intel with YP! Looking for more resources? Check out Thinking College’s monthly meetings! Thinking this summer is a good time for test prep? Contact us about how we can help.