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

College Is a Next Step – That’s All

Heading off to college is a big step. Your student has anticipated this step for a long time and probably worked hard throughout high school to get ready, apply, and make that final decision.  As parents, you’ve been involved – sometimes in the thick of it all and sometimes on the sideline – and you are also anticipating a big change.

But as big as that step to college seems, it is just that – one more step.  And the step is that much easier for your student when he is prepared.  Perhaps one of the reasons we all have so much anxiety about the college admissions process and the college transition process is that we see it as a giant leap rather than a step.

Your student has taken steps throughout his life – some bigger than others.  There were those literal first steps, then daycare or preschool, kindergarten, middle school and high school.  Remember how scary each of those steps felt at the time?  Your student may have learned to ride a bike, have a first sleepover, play in a first athletic game, give a first music or dance recital, talk to a girl (!), go on a date, and learn to drive a car.  Scary, right?

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June 1, 2015   1 Comment

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

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

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

What Do Parents Want from Colleges? Where Do You Fit In?

Students have a lot of decisions to make when it comes to choosing a college.  There are many factors to weigh – and then after the logical decisions have been weighed, there is the issue of finding the right “fit.”  But most students do not make the college decision entirely alone.  They turn to their families for advice.

As a parent, you probably have some clear ideas about what you want for your student as she makes the college choice.  Although the decision should ultimately be hers, you will weigh in and share your feelings and opinions.  Of course, your student may, or may not, listen.

A recent poll conducted by Noodle Education surveyed nearly 1000 middle class parents about what they consider important in choosing a college.  Two-thirds of the parents surveyed had college bound high school students and one-third had students currently in college or less than one year out of college.

Consider the findings of this poll and think about what your responses might be.  What do you consider important?  Then consider asking your student.  Do your responses match?  If not, this might be a great opening to a conversation – not to change your student’s mind, but to explore her thinking – and learn more about her.

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March 2, 2015   No Comments

Has Your Student Found the College with the Best Fit?

According to a new survey conducted by Noodle Education, one of the issues parents are most concerned about is that their college student find a college that is the right “fit.”  72.5% of parents ranked this as highly important to them.

Students, too, want to find a college that is the right fit.  Guidance counselors encourage students to look for the college that is the right fit.  Colleges claim to be the right fit for your student.

So what exactly does it mean to say that a college is the right “fit” for a student, and how can a student find that fit?

“Fit”

The quality of fit in a college is a complex concept.  It is often difficult to define or describe, but students often know it when they find it.

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February 26, 2015   No Comments

It’s Time to Love Your Second Choice College

As a parent, you want your child to be happy.  It began when they were infants, and it hasn’t changed.  And for some students about to head to college, happiness may mean learning to love their second choice college.  They may need your help understanding how to do that

The facts are there.  According to a recent study conducted by the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA, fewer than 57% of students in the United States are attending their first choice college.  That means that your student may wind up attending her second (or third or fourth) choice of college.  It is interesting to note, however, that over 75% of students were admitted to their first choice of school.  This means that your student (or you as a family) may make the choice to attend a school other than your student’s initial first choice.

Some research is also suggesting, however, that where your student attends school is going to matter less than her attitude and her actions once she gets there.

What can I do to help my student make the adjustment?

The first thing that you can do is to honor your student’s disappointment.

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January 26, 2015   No Comments

Deferred? Waitlisted? Help Your Student Take Action

The college admissions process is a roller coaster for everyone.  Students spend months, or years, preparing – taking the right classes, taking tests, visiting schools, filling out applications, writing essays, securing recommendations.  It’s exhausting and everyone is anxious for the process to conclude.

Many students send their applications for Early Action or Early Decision and hope to have an answer by December.  Other students apply through rolling admission or regular admission and hope to know their fate by early spring.

But two specific situations can thrust your student into limbo.  If your student has applied to school through Early Action or Early Decision and is deferred, she will need to wait to have her application reviewed with the regular pool of applicants in the spring.  If your student applies for regular admission and is wait listed, she will need to wait, sometimes well into the summer, to hear whether there will be a place for her – and this will depend on the response rate from those who have been offered a place through regular admission.

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January 5, 2015   No Comments

When Disappointment Comes for Your Student

Your student will experience disappointment. It is inevitable. There are the little disappointments that occur all through childhood, of course, but then there are bigger disappointments.  It may be failure to make the team or get the part in the play, a grade that is less than desired, loss of a scholarship, college rejection or deferral, or low GPA.  It might happen in high school or it might happen during college.

However, the important question is not whether your student will experience disappointment (he will) or even when, but what will you and your student do when the inevitable happens?

Your student may look to you, even without realizing that he is doing so, to model how he should handle his disappointment.  Whether it is an admission rejection or academic probation, it is important to see this as an opportunity to model your attitude and behavior for your student.  How you respond may affect how he reacts to the situation.  Remember when he was little and fell down?  Often, the first thing he did was look to you. If you smiled and laughed, he often got up and was fine.  If you were alarmed and fearful, tears came.

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December 18, 2014   4 Comments

Beyond Admissions: Preparing Your High School Senior for College

As the parent of a high school senior (or junior) you may be doing everything that you can to help your student make decisions and get into the college of his choice.  This is an important time and there certainly are a lot of things to do.  As your student works on the college admissions process, you may be drawn into the whirlwind along with your student.

This is a good time to stop and think about how the college admissions process has involved you either directly or indirectly.

Your student is

  • preparing for PSAT, SAT and/or ACT exams,
  • making sure that extracurricular activities and community service are documented,
  • keeping grades strong,
  • cleaning up social media accounts,
  • attending college information workshops,
  • completing financial aid applications,
  • compiling lists of schools,
  • attending college fairs,
  • working with guidance counselors,
  • making college visits,
  • getting all paperwork organized,
  • writing essays,
  • sending out applications,
  • and finally – waiting impatiently for admissions decisions.

It’s no wonder students – and parents – feel overwhelmed.  Just thinking about the process can be exhausting.  And once those applications are in the mail, you may feel as though the real work of senior year is done.  Now you just wait – at least until letters arrive and new, and final, decisions need to be made.

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December 8, 2014   No Comments