Motivating My Son In The Drowning Sea Of College Applications

Motivating My Son In The Drowning Sea Of College Applications
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This monday, October 17, getting ready for college class at FIU with his fraternity buddy

“Why are you dressing up to go to class?” I asked my son as he fiddled with his tie Monday morning. “Because the fraternity I am joining has us dress up on Monday’s to look good,” he answered. Interesting… I thought to myself, as I grabbed my camera to snap a picture of Cristian and his college fraternity friend.

I didn’t know in that moment that I was going to write this post motivated by Univision’s “¡Edúcate, es el momento!” 7 Day Call to Action Effort to Further Impact Hispanic Educational Attainment campaign. (shared by Julito Varela on Facebook)

I was a proud mama especially after the months of planning his college applications, filling out financial aid forms, going to special parent meetings at his high school and motivating him countless of times to get on the computer to find grants or scholarships for many long, long hours!! There were times when I almost pulled my hairs for the amount of time and dedication it required.

I remember one day, I logged into the FAFSA application online to check on the status weeks after filling it out and noticed that it said Cristian had gotten funds years before. “What???” , as my head started going into a tailspin. It turned out that I had put in the wrong social security number!!!! More paperwork to repair the oversight and damage, but finally, in due time, all was in good order.

En Español: Motivando A Mi Hijo

I realized during this process how easy it is to give up, but I refused to go that negative route. I was lucky that he had a pre-paid community college plan, which paid for part of the tuition, but it wasn’t enough for FIU, the college he had his heart on and coincidently, my own alma mater.

And to top things off, he missed the Bright Futures program by 1 point….1 measely little point. The Bright Futures is a merit based award in Florida which you can only apply in your senior year of high school. He gets good grades, at least a 3.4, but in testing for the ACT and SAT, he scored lower than average(on 3 different attempts!) That happens to some students, they get nervous or blank out.

So this Monday, I was beaming with joy that my son not only got a chance to go to college, but the fact that he is super motivated in bettering himself with attitude, focus and determination and hanging out with positive mentors in a fraternity and great college that encourages personal development. He is studying Business Adminstration with Entrepreunership.

So my tips to successfully navigating the college application process is:

-Make a to do list with timeline of deadlines for the applications.

-Apply on time. Don’t wait until the last minute.

-Check and double check everything.

-Call each organization and ask as many questions as you can.

-Go online directly to to apply for financial aid. This has to be renewed every year your child is in college to be eligible.

-Get your accounting and tax returns in order.

-Fill everything out with your son or daughter. Don’t do it alone for them. They need to be involved.

-Go to every college planning parent meeting they offer in your child’s high school.

-Don’t get frustrated, be an example to your child that you are persistent, so they can learn to acquire this quality.

-Enjoy the process. Have fun with them and keep motivating them. Yes time flies very fast. :( He’s a man now…and I am letting him spread his wings, while I observe in the background with a proud happy heart.

– Most importantly, give them a quiet space during all their high school years to be able to study in silence and be there for them. It will pay off in the end. They act like teens and wanting of independence, but they still need you to be there for them to support them. Create a space that supports focus to be able to utilize the mind to study well.

And my greatest words of wisdom: You as a parent, have to be motivated to motivate your child. I know there are a handful of teens that are self motivated and do all the application process themselves, but I suspect that is not the norm. You know, they are teens…..!!!! Do it as a team effort.

Useful resources I found:

Ultimate Money Skills website by Bank of America. ( They were the ones that spoke at a parents meeting in high school last year.)

College Applications Facebook Group moderated by two wonderful and dedicated Latina bloguera friends: Angelica Perez and Monica Olivera Hazelton

And lastly, here I share a picture of my son’s high school graduation this May, 2011…a bittersweet moment…yes, I always choke up when I see this picture…

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Cristian and moi, the proud mama at his high school graduation May, 4 years another graduation..College!
  • I know you are so proud, Blanca! Thank you for sharing your experience in this area. It is good to know that sometimes you as a parent, got frustrated with all the time and effort, but SO glad you were determined. I hope I am that way when the time comes….

    • Thank you Monica. I KNOW you will be with all your kids. You are such a great inspiration in what you are doing with Angelica in the e college mentoring group… and everything else relating to education with Mommy Maestra.

    • Haha! I'm not really a moderator of the group. I just share the resources I stumble across :) But thank you for your kind words!

      Un abrazo…

  • Danettevigilante

    Love this! Thanks for sharing. We're in this process RIGHT NOW at our house.

  • I LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS! Congrats to you and your son :)
    I am certain he will do well and do great things!

  • Great post! Staying focused and doing it early is best and prevents anxiety. Congratulations!

    • Yes. Trust me, especially since some grants dry up fast. Early bird gets the worm, as they say.

  • LeslieLimon

    LOVE THIS!!! Just goes to show that hard work and determination do pay off! :)

    Congratulations to you and your son.

    And my favorite piece of all of your great advice has to be “Fill everything out with your son or daughter. Don’t do it alone for them. They need to be involved.” So true and very important step so that our kids know just how much hard work it takes to get into college. :)

  • What a fantastic post! I applied to college in the early 90s and everything was paperwork. My parents went to all the open houses and workshops with me but in the end it was all on me to apply. It taught me a lot. Congrats to you and your son.

    • Thank you Patty. It does feel like a big milestone!

  • PresleysPantry

    I always dread paperwork, but am thankful when it's done. :) Look like this labor of love really paid off in spades.

  • Morena Escardo

    Congrats to you and your son! All those college applications are horrible. Even worse if, like me, you choose to study abroad. Then you have to add all the visa worries to the list. But at the end its all worth it.

  • Buen articulo y esencial! Han de revisar la serie educativa de @HITN College Admission 411, que provee paso por paso informacion para ir a la universidad: