Information for the parents of college students

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College Parent News and Views

The more that college parents know and understand about the college experience, the less we worry and the better we will be able to help our students to succeed and thrive throughout their college career.  However, there is an overwhelming amount of information out there on the web.   We’d like to help you find some of the information that might be most interesting and useful to you as a college parent.

In News and Views we share recent college related news and sources we’ve found as we do our research.  We hope that this feature will help to introduce you to new ideas and to help you keep up with some of the current issues that may affect your college student – and you.

We invite you to read some of the articles suggested below – and to let us know what you think of some of the ideas included here.

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May 28, 2015   No Comments

Parents: Write a Commencement Speech

‘Tis the season of graduations and commencements.  And if there are graduations and commencements, then there are certainly speeches.

Most graduation speakers, students and dignitaries alike, work hard to craft a message that is a little bit autobiographical, a little bit clever and humorous, a little bit thought-provoking, and delivers an important message about life.

In spite of the hard work that these speech writers put in to their speeches, most also know that not many in the room, or auditorium, or gym or on the quad, will be listening.  And of those who listen, only a small percentage will remember what was said.  When she delivered the Commencement address at Harvard University in 2008, author J. K. Rowling actually found comfort in the fact that probably no one would remember what she had to say.  It calmed her nerves.  Obviously, graduation speeches are lost on the graduates.

But graduations and commencements continue to feature speakers who deliver advice and proclaim values that could, indeed, become life changing – or at least life guiding.  And perhaps some of the people who benefit most from those speeches are the writers themselves.  It is no easy task to decide what single message you think will most benefit a group of young adults about to head to college or out into the world.

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May 18, 2015   No Comments

Should Being Undecided About a Major Matter When Choosing a College?

We ask our high school students to make some big decisions about their lives.  Often, it feels as though, as adults, we switch back and forth between “You’re too young to understand,” to “Now it’s time to decide what you want to do with your life.”  Is it any wonder that many high school students, in the midst of trying to select a college, may feel overwhelmed?

What are you going to do with your life?

As your high school student approaches his junior and senior year of high school, the two questions he is probably asked more often than any others are “Where are you going to apply to college?” and “What are you going to major in?”  For a student who may not yet know what he is interesting in majoring in – and that may be as high as half of all entering college students – answering the first question may be harder.  Students who don’t yet have a major in mind may find it harder to select a college.

There are many different reasons why students may not have a major in mind as they search for a college.  It’s important that parents help their students understand that it’s fine not to have a major in mind yet.  (One student suggests that as many as 75% of students who enter college with a major change their mind anyway.)  But not having a major in mind means that there is one less factor to consider when looking at various schools.

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May 11, 2015   No Comments

College Parent News and Views

The more that college parents know and understand about the college experience, the less we worry and the better we will be able to help our students to succeed and thrive throughout their college career.  However, there is an overwhelming amount of information out there on the web.   We’d like to help you find some of the information that might be most interesting and useful to you as a college parent.

In News and Views we share recent college related news and sources we’ve found as we do our research.  We hope that this feature will help to introduce you to new ideas and to help you keep up with some of the current issues that may affect your college student – and you.

We invite you to read some of the articles suggested below – and to let us know what you think of some of the ideas included here.

[Read more →]

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April 30, 2015   No Comments

Why Can’t My Student Find Out His Place on the Admissions Waitlist?

Your student has been waitlisted for admission to his first choice college.  He has officially entered the limbo in which more and more students (perhaps as high as 10% of applicants) find themselves.  He’s not in – but he hasn’t exactly been rejected either.  It is rather like trying to fly standby – you don’t have a seat on the plane, but there is a chance that you might get one.

What exactly is a waitlist?

The waitlist is a list of students who are qualified for acceptance to the college, but for whom the college does not have a current place.  Some students may actually be overqualified, and the school is waiting to see whether they are accepted and choose to attend a more selective school.  The college doesn’t want to waste a spot in their accepted student pool on someone they assume will probably attend another college.  Other students may be slightly underqualified and are given a “courtesy” place on the waitlist as a softer form of rejection.  This may be especially true of students who are related to alumni or wealthy donors.

But most students on the waitlist are fully qualified to attend the school.  The waitlist becomes a safety net for the college if their “yield” (number of accepted students who make a deposit) is low.  As students apply to more and more colleges, the yield may become more unpredictable.

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April 21, 2015   1 Comment

Reflecting on Six Years: College Parent Central’s Anniversary

Each year, as April rolls around, College Parent Central celebrates an anniversary.  We are always pleased, and sometimes a little amazed, that we’re still here a year later.  This year we celebrate our sixth anniversary.  When we first launched on April Fool’s Day in 2009, we weren’t sure what to expect.  We recognized that college parents needed information and support, and we hoped that we could help provide some of that guidance.  Six years later, parents continue to let us know that they appreciate the information that we provide.

Thank you to those who have supported us and shared our information with others!

Our journey and evolution

Over the years, we have seen some important things remain constant and other things evolve.  It’s been an interesting journey.

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April 9, 2015   No Comments

College Parent News and Views

The more that college parents know and understand about the college experience, the less we worry and the better we will be able to help our students to succeed and thrive throughout their college career.  However, there is an overwhelming amount of information out there on the web.   We’d like to help you find some of the information that might be most interesting and useful to you as a college parent.

In News and Views we share recent college related news and sources we’ve found as we do our research.  We hope that this feature will help to introduce you to new ideas and to help you keep up with some of the current issues that may affect your college student – and you.

We invite you to read some of the articles suggested below – and to let us know what you think of some of the ideas included here.

[Read more →]

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March 30, 2015   No Comments

College Student Hopes and Worries

As high school students work through the college admissions process and then anxiously await those all-important admission letters, they – and their parents – are filled with hope, and also worry.  It is the nature of the process.

Since 2003 The Princeton Review has conducted an annual survey investigating those hopes and dreams.  This year, the survey was available from August 2014 to March 2015 and was completed by slightly more than 12,000 students and parents.  80% of the respondents were students and 20% were parents.  The results of this survey provide a window into some of the dreams and application viewpoints of these students and parents.  Many parents may find it reassuring that they are not alone in their feelings.

The admissions process and finances

73% of those responding reported “application stress;” This represents 17% more than those indicating stress in the first year of the survey in 2003.  The greatest source of stress for most students was the testing – taking admissions exams.  The second greatest source was the application process itself – completing admissions and financial aid applications.

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March 26, 2015   No Comments

Book Review: The Portable Guidance Counselor

From time to time, we like to review some of the books available for parents of college students.  There is a wealth of literature available to help parents cope with the transition to college and the changes that occur throughout the college years.  We’ve offered some lists of recommended reading, and there is something for everyone.  See our lists of books in our Reading List 1, Reading List 2Reading List 3, and Reading List 4.

The Portable Guidance Counselor: Answers to the 284 Most Important Questions About Getting Into College is edited by the staff of the Princeton Review.  It is a comprehensive review of some of the most important questions that high school students ask, and the answers that guidance counselors give.  It can be a helpful resource for students – especially those students who may have guidance counselors who are overwhelmed and may have less time and attention to share with students.

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March 23, 2015   No Comments

How Is My Student Doing? Sharing Your College Student’s Passwords

When your student heads off to college, you worry.  Some parents worry a lot, often for good reasons.  But all parents, even those confident of their student’s abilities and responsibility, worry at least a little.  We worry about their safety, we worry about their happiness, and we worry about their success.  It is part of the nature of being a parent

We worried when our student was in high school, too, but most of us had our student under our roof.  We knew at least some of what was going on in his life.  In addition, many high schools now have portals or websites where administrators and teachers post announcements, reminders of deadlines, homework assignments, and grades.  As parents, we had access to such sites.  We felt included. We were on top of things.  We were in the loop.

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March 16, 2015   2 Comments