Cross Post! How to Get Your Daughter into College (for Smart Moms)

Hi readers!

Here's a cross post from my website about higher education, WE'RE GOING TO COLLEGE!:

1. Are you a Mom?

2. Do you have a daughter?

3. Do you want her to go to college?

Then we need to talk.

If you’re a mother or an auntie or a grandma or a tia or an abuelita raising a young lady who wants to go to college, you are in the right place.

If you’re wondering, “What’s the secret to getting into college?”, you’re in the right place.

I’m going to tell you the Secret to Getting into College.

Are you ready?

Here it is:

Find a college that you want to go to and that wants you to go there.

It’s that simple.

Well, the concept is simple; the execution takes some work.

The pressure and competition to get into the right college increases every year, right along with the cost to go to college.

On average, girls are more prepared for the application process and to live on their own at school that their male counterparts. But, ironically, since a higher percentage of women than men are going to and graduating from college, some schools are actively recruiting men—not women—because they know they’ll have more than enough female applicants.

This means your daughter needs to stand out.

That said, there are over 3000 4-year colleges and universities in the United States alone. Most of them accept the majority of students who apply to their school. So rest easy. Your daughter will get in somewhere.

Now let’s look at how to get your daughter accepted to the right college for her. Here are the basics.

1. Talk with your daughter.

Ask her where she wants to go and why. What does she want to study? What would she like to do after graduating from college? Everyone involved needs to be on the same page. For instance, you might have in-state doctor or lawyer dreams for your child, but if she wants to work in paleontology or astrophysics out of state, you two are not headed in the same direction. Also, discuss the monetary prospects of attending college, including any college funds, financial aid, loans, grants, and who will be paying for her expenses over the next four years. Both of you should understand what college expectations you have on both sides.

2. Get the receipts.

Ask your daughter for her high school transcript; any other course transcripts from summer programs or community college classes; her SAT, ACT, and PSAT test scores; a list of her activities, achievement, awards, and leadership; and her list of schools. Discuss why she chose the colleges and universities she is interested in and how they will help her achieve her future goals.

Also, gain an understanding of who your daughter is on paper so you can see how admissions committees will view her. Even though your daughter is your special snowflake and the best girl in your world, she will be seen by some schools—especially large institutions—as her name, rank, and serial number. This is the time to identify your daughter’s strengths and weaknesses, and think about the type of application package you like to present to colleges for their consideration. Meet with your daughter’s college counselor so that you can all work as a team to create a game plan for the application process.

3. Research together, one by one.

Look at each school one at a time. Start by comparing her GPA and test scores to each school’s profile. Then look at the area she wants to study at the school. Note ways to connect with the admissions office, either through college fairs or campus visits. If possible, VISIT THE SCHOOL. This is the best way for your daughter to figure out whether she would actually like to spend four years at each college. It’s also a great way to let the admissions officers know that you are interested by interacting with them in person. It’s much harder to reject an application from someone you’ve met face to face rather than a piece of paper from a stranger you’ve never seen before.

4. Make your list: 3-3-3-1.

3 Likelies, 3 Matches, 3 Reaches, 1 Bonus. Likelies are schools that you are “likely” to get accepted to. Their average GPA and test scores are lower than their daughters, and they have a high acceptance rate. Matches are schools that have average GPAs and average standardized test scores that are approximately the same as your daughter’s. Reaches are schools that have average GPAs and test scores higher than your daughter’s and/or have low acceptance rates. The bonus is the one extra school that your daughter can apply to for fun. You can also use Naviance to help place schools in accurate categories for your situation.

Additionally, assess and access your connections to schools. Look through your network—and your daughter’s network—of family, friends, co-workers, colleagues, and associates to find current students, alumni, professors, staff members, anyone linked to the colleges and universities that you are interested so that you can talk with them and learn about their experiences with the schools. This insider knowledge can help inform your daughter as she prepares her applications, writes school-specific essays, and eventually receives her acceptance letters and decides which school she would ultimately like to attend.

5. Apply to college.

All of the work you have done in advance will make this part easier. Let your daughter know that she will be the one completing her applications, but you will be there every step of the way providing support. Have your daughter start writing essays and securing recommendations (including backups) ahead of time. Dot your Is and cross your Ts. Fill out your FAFSA and CSS forms for financial aid as well. (Most families in the United States WILL QUALIFY for some sort of financial aid, whether it be scholarships, grants, loans, or work study.) Check, double-check, and triple-check your daughter’s application with your daughter before she hits submit. Then press that button—before the deadline(!)—and take a breath.


You did it.

Whew! There is so much for moms to think about and talk about and organize and fill out before they actually send their daughters away to get that higher education.

Are you a Smart Mom? Do you have a question about How to Get Your Daughter into College? Please write us a comment down below!

If you need help with this overwhelming process, you can email us at for more advice. And, keep reading our website at for additional insights into the college application process.

Thanks for reading!