Helping your child navigate the college admission process can be stressful. Take a look at this advice from other parents who’ve dealt with a variety of issues; it might give you some college admissions assistance.
Completing college admission requirements
A long-time college employee complains, “Trying to get my son to sit down and write a simple essay was impossible. He wouldn’t take the time and said, ‘I don’t know what to write,’ even though he was given multiple choices on the application. I knew that he could write because of the comments written by teachers on his papers in high school. What worked was telling him that the content was more important than the length of the essay. That seemed to take some pressure off, and, before he knew it, he had constructed a decent essay. I think it’s important for students to write their own essays. It’s good preparation for what’s to come in college. They really need to learn how to think for themselves.”
Jackie B., a college professor and survivor of the college admissions process with her oldest child admits, “Getting my son to write the essays and complete the admission and financial aid applications was a hand-wringing experience. After our hand wringing was completed, we moved to the heart-pounding stage as we approached the mailbox each day with high hopes. My son got the news he hoped for so it was all worth it.”
College admission requirements are not sole indicator of success
“Yes, there is life after college-entrance exams,” said one Philadelphia father on the day of his son’s Ivy League law school graduation. “When we saw David’s SAT results, we took a detour on the road to Harvard and made tracks to Franklin and Marshall. In retrospect, I can’t imagine a better college experience for my son, and he’s ended up right about where he was headed back in high school, anyway. I wonder now whether he was better off without those super SAT scores.”
College admission process disappointments
“Boys and girls both worry about the process and the outcome, but boys worry more quietly,” observes a seasoned guidance counselor and dad of both a son and daughter.
“Model how to handle disappointment by sharing your own disappointments with your children, explaining how you got through them. If they never hear about your disappointments, they might think it unusual or strange to have them; they might feel even more isolated with their hurts. Be a good listener, offer plenty of hugs, and remind them of the good things to be thankful for — and keep them talking!” suggests a seasoned high school counselor and father of three.
“In a perfect world, college admission decisions for each student should be illustrated on a bell curve,” suggests a mom of two who has worked at secondary schools for 20 years. “It’s not unpredictable that a student will get rejected from reach schools, admitted to one or two safeties, and do pretty well with the majority, which should fall in the middle. If a student gets in everywhere he applied, he probably didn’t stretch enough. If he gets denied too many places, he probably didn’t pick enough of a range of schools.”
Students may have college admissions requirements of their own
“After working out whether the two colleges that had admitted him could each offer a rich experience in the areas he thought he might major in, my son’s decision rested on a single question. ‘Can I wear my pants (the awful, grungy, ragged-bottomed ones with the wedges he sewed in himself) at Carleton?’ He was sure he could wear them at Oberlin. When the answer (from a trusted source — a classmate visiting her brother at Carleton) was yes, he made his choice,” remembers Sharon, an English professor.