Information for the parents of college students
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Category — Admission and Orientation

Should My Student Take Advantage of Test Optional College Admission Policies?

An increasing number of colleges in the United States are becoming what they term “test optional.”  Still other schools may be “test flexible” or even “test blind.”  These terms are not exactly the same thing, and it is important that your student know the difference and consider carefully what each might mean for him.

What do test optional, test flexible, and test blind mean?

According to Fairtest.org, a non-profit organization which maintains a database of schools, more than 850 four-year colleges in the United States are “test optional.”  This means that the student may decide whether or not to send test scores as part of his admission packet. If he decides to send scores, he may decide which scores to send.  Schools which are “test flexible,” ask students to submit test scores, but the student may decide whether to send scores from the SAT, ACT, AP exam, International Baccalaureate, or SAT subject tests.  Other schools use a “test blind” policy and choose not to consider test scores even if students send them.

Schools opting for the emerging trend of the test optional approach include a wide range of sizes, mission, and selectivity, but many tend to be liberal arts colleges with a more holistic approach to admission.  More than 1/3 of liberal arts colleges have adopted this approach.  Many of the schools who have adopted test optional policies have done so out of a concern about an over-reliance on standardized testing and/or to increase the diversity of their applicant base.  According to Fairtest.org, “test scores do not equal merit.”  Many schools feel that high school performance is a better indicator of college success than standardized test scores.

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July 19, 2016   No Comments

Might Early College High School Be Right for Your Student?

For some students, spending the high school years just waiting to get to college doesn’t happen – and for good reason.  These students are spending their high school years doing the work of college.  They are enrolled in an Early College High School.

Early College High School is not the same thing as Dual Enrollment.  In a dual enrollment program, students attend a traditional high school and take one or two college classes at the same time.  In an Early College High School, some strictly high school classes are replaced by college classes – for all students in the school.  So Early College High School is an institutional, rather than an individual, program.  The program provides an opportunity for students to receive a high school diploma at the same time that they receive college credit, or even an associates degree – tuition free.

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May 16, 2016   No Comments

Turning the Page on the College Decision Dilemma

For many high school seniors (and their parents) the last few months have been torture: all of the questions about where to apply to college, all of the college visits, all of the applications and essays and forms, the wait for the acceptance or rejection letters, and then finally the dilemma about the decision.

But May 1 has come and gone.  Decision Day is over.  Your student has made a decision, paid the deposit, and now a strange new phase begins – for both of you.

For high school seniors, the final few weeks of school may be a blur.  It’s time to make sure they don’t let their guard down and jeopardize the grades on which their acceptance is contingent.  And it’s an emotional time – full of the highs of celebrating the end of high school and lows of leaving their friends as they all move on.

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May 3, 2016   No Comments

Why Staging a Sit-In Should Be Part of Your Student’s Campus Visits

Campus visits are an essential part of the college admission and decision process.  Nothing can replace the experience of visiting a campus to experience the feeling and to help determine whether the school is a good fit for your student.  Most campus visits are similar – a presentation by admission staff, maybe a student panel, possibly an interview,  and a campus tour.  That will give your student an overall feeling for a school, but may not give the total picture.

It may be important for your student to dig a little deeper in order to get a real feel for a school.  Grabbing a snack or a meal in the dining area may help, talking to some current students (not just admission tour guides) may help, just sitting in the Student Center or on a bench on campus may help.  But during the course of your student’s college career, she may spend close to 2000 hours in class.  One important tool for judging the feel of a college is sitting in on one, or more, classes.

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March 14, 2016   No Comments

Does Your Student Qualify for a Free Visit to College?

The words “free” and “college” don’t often appear in the same sentence, but this time they just might.  Many families don’t realize that a number of colleges may offer financial help to students to make an admission visit possible.  Not all colleges offer the option and not all students will qualify, but the option is worth investigating.

Each college that offers a visit reimbursement program or option handles it differently and may give it a different name, but typical programs may be referred to as fly-in programs, travel grants, travel scholarships, or funded campus visits.  Colleges most likely, but not exclusively, to offer such programs may be more selective liberal arts colleges, although some research universities (such as Dartmouth or Yale) offer programs for students interested in particular majors.  They have names that include descriptions such as Fly-in Weekend, Diversity Overnight Program, Weekend Immersion, Diversity Achievement Program, or include words such as Access, Discover and Explore.

Who is eligible?

Fly-in programs and travel grants are available largely to high school seniors who would find the cost of a visit prohibitive and to students who are underrepresented on the campus such as first generation students, students of diverse backgrounds, minority students and/or low income students.

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February 8, 2016   No Comments

Parents, Help Students Manage That Nasty Time Between Application and College Admission

The college applications have all been submitted.  Check.  It is the end of a long road leading to this point.  For students, and their parents, there may be a let-down.  As relieved as you are to have this process finished, you and your student have been so focused on the college application process for so long that you’re not sure what to do now.

Can you really be expected to just stop everything and wait for the admission letters to arrive?

This is a good opportunity for you to model some behavior and attitudes for your student as you both shift from the high gear of getting applications ready to waiting for responses.  Here are three behaviors that parents can model for students during this time.

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January 18, 2016   No Comments

Five Conversations You and Your Student Should Have as You Begin the College Admission Process

Your high school student is about to embark on the college admission journey.  And of course, as your student embarks on this journey, you will be along for the ride. Congratulations!

You will inevitably hit some bumps along the way, but the journey can be a meaningful one as well.  If you’re hoping to minimize the bumps and maximize the rewarding parts, it’s important that you and your student have some discussions before you set out.  As with any journey, having an itinerary and a map helps the trip go smoothly, but so does being open to some detours and side trips along the way.

As you and your student get ready to begin the admission process, we’d like to suggest five conversations that will help you both prepare. Don’t try to fit everything in at once, give yourselves time to talk and think, but addressing these topics early in the process with help prepare everyone for what might lie ahead.

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October 5, 2015   No Comments

The Race to Place: A College Parent’s Guide to Advanced Placement

As July approaches each year, many high school students eagerly await the release of Advanced Placement scores.  These scores may determine whether students will receive college credit or have the option of being placed in advanced, upper level college courses.  If you have a high school student, you may be wondering whether your student should be taking Advanced Placement, or AP courses.  If you have a student about to enter college, you may even wonder whether your student missed an important opportunity.  The short answer is, it depends . . .

Advanced Placement, or AP, courses allow students to participate in college level classes as part of their high school curriculum.  Most students who take an AP course then take the national exam for that course at the end of the year.  Students who receive a score that is high enough may receive college credit and may be exempted from taking certain introductory level classes. More than 2600 colleges in 100 countries grant credit for AP work.  31% of schools consider AP scores as they award scholarships.  AP courses and exams are offered in over 30 subjects.

What are the advantages of taking on the harder work of an AP class?

There are several advantages to taking AP classes:

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July 10, 2015   No Comments

Your College Freshman: The Summer Flood of Information

When your student was in high school, she probably received what may have felt like an overwhelming amount of recruiting material from colleges.  Some may have come in the physical mail, and much of it may have come electronically.  Whatever its form, it just kept coming.

Now that your student has been accepted to college, has paid the deposit at her chosen school, and is about to head to college in a few short weeks, there is a new flood of information arriving – and this flood may make the earlier information seem like a mere trickle.  And there is an important difference this time: this information is crucial and should be carefully read and considered.

Lots of summer information

Although some of the summer information arriving from your student’s new college may come in hard copy through the mail, much of it will come electronically.  And the information that arrives electronically will be sent to your student, not to you.  It will most likely arrive at your student’s new college e-mail address, so it is important that she make sure that she sets that up as soon as the college gives her the log-in information.  Be sure to ask her whether she’s done that.

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June 29, 2015   No Comments

What Is Enrollment Management?

If you are about to send your child off to college, you wonder a lot about how your student will succeed, and you may also wonder what the college will do to help your student succeed.  There are a lot of individual offices, departments, programs and personnel who will intersect with and support your student.  Sometimes, it may seem impossible to keep it all straight.

The college’s Strategic Enrollment Management process will help the college ensure that there is a comprehensive plan in place to help shape the school’s enrollment and support its students.  Colleges want to build the best entering class, but also help those students succeed and graduate.

Enrollment Management, often referred to as Strategic Enrollment Management (SEM) is comprehensive process which institutions use to help them shape their enrollment and meet their goals.  Essentially, rather than many different areas of the institution work independently, Strategic Enrollment Management allows the institution to look at the entire process of how they recruit, admit, enroll, retain and graduate students.  It often also includes how the institution intersects with its alumni as well.

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June 8, 2015   2 Comments