Once ownership by the student is established, help them understand this does not mean that they can’t have resources. Everyone successful uses resources. University itself is nothing but a buffet of resources, but unlike high school, these resources will not chase after the student, he/she will need to take the initiative. Identify key resources that can help the student. Other key areas of preparation that I will not go into detail about but are very important are developing writing skills, time management, multitasking and short and long-term goal setting.
What role should parents play during the process? What are some things they need to know?
Empowerment. In a word, that sums it all up. It is not the parent’s process, so they should not hover above like helicopters; they should be one of the key resources that are available. They can help the student with some of the development of these key skills above, but it should be clear that it is the student’s process. Also, parents need to open their minds beyond the ‘Big Name’ schools. Realise that this is just a step in a long journey, and most importantly, the student should be happy in the school he/she chooses in order to be successful. Do not compare with others. Each student is unique, and it is pointless to compare. Finally, be aware that this is the most pressure that they have ever felt in their lives and they will always interpret certain expectations that you have of them, so try to always encourage them to just do their best.
What are some of the ways through which students can finance their education?
In the past, there has been decent financial aid available to international students in the US, but the recent economic downturn has had a significant effect on aid for international students. The UK is even bleaker. If one needs financial aid to attend college, it is a far more complicated process and I would advise seeking professional assistance. I would also advise that you have a realistic backup plan in case you do not receive aid. There are also a few organisations that provide loans to international students with lower interest rates than we can get in India, but I do not have enough experience with these to endorse any. I will advise you to be very careful of scholarship scams. Rule of thumb is that if anyone says that they require you to pay anything in order to find you a scholarship, it is a scam.