4 Tips for Divorce and the College Application Process

October 11, 2019

By Amanda Yu, Esq.

Your child is finally a senior in high school— and you can’t believe you finally made it here!   You’ve had dreams of this time: walking through picturesque college campuses in the autumn foliage, perusing the course catalogue, picking out dorm supplies, and, of course, not having a single argument with your child or former spouse.

Here are some tips to help this dream become a reality:

  1. Communicate.

Where to go to college is a big decision for your child, but it is also a big decision for you and your former spouse.  If possible, sit down with your child and your former spouse and make a list of every school that your child is considering.  Weigh the pros and cons of each school openly and honestly and make a quick reference list of each academic institution.  This will certainly help down the line when you just can’t remember what the SAT or GPA cut off for a specific school is and need to find out fast.  The college selection process is certainly not a one-person undertaken, and the entire family should be involved, if possible.  If sitting down together is a sheer impossibility, set all of the information down in writing for everyone to review and reference.

  1. Plan ahead.

Mapping out a schedule for college visits will minimize the number of headaches you and your former spouse will endure.  You may decide to split the visits, or you may decide to go together.  You may even decide that your child can go with a friend’s family, or a group from his or her high school.  Regardless of what you decide, set deadlines that will allow you and your family time to review the information gathered and ruminate on everything you have learned.  Do this for application supplements like letters of recommendation, potential scholarships and financial aid, and if applicable, other internal applications at each school.

  1. Be honest.

If you have qualms about a certain school, make sure to voice that opinion.  If you and your former spouse are amicable, consider speaking with him or her about it first before speaking (together) with your child about your concerns.  For example, your child may not realize that you and your former spouse may be legally obligated to contribute towards his or her college expenses.  So, if cost is a major issue, make sure to present the hard facts of cost and ways that your child can help (e.g. scholarships, grants, work-study).  It is much better to have all of the issues on the table, rather than having your child apply and be accepted into a school that you cannot afford and having to explain it all later.

  1. Have fun!

Although the college application process can be grueling, it can also be very exciting.  Take advantage of this chance to bond with your child and cherish every moment you have before your child embarks on this new adventure!