Topics: College Costs, College Applications, college preparation, college admissions, high school senior, College decision Day
There is a lot of pressure for students to do extracurricular activities. Many colleges view EC’s as a critical element of the application. There are varying degrees of a student's engagement level: Is the student doing enough in this regard? Are they following their passions? Or are they doing the activity because they were told to?
I pose the following critical question to get to the core: Who owns the extracurricular activity?
It sounds like a crazy question…shouldn’t the answer be “Of course, the student owns it?”
But, consider the possibility that the parent owns the activity:
The image of a parent working on their elementary or middle school students school project is something many of us can relate to. To the parents, they may remember their own experience gaining assistance on building a volcano that used some type of baking soda to erupt or a 3D view of a scene from history—maybe something like George Washington crossing the Delaware River in a boat. Once the student is in high school, the academic grades become even more important—especially for college admission—and extracurricular activities compete for the student’s available time. It becomes tempting for some to take “shortcuts”. This may be simply a parent wanting to stem the tide of tears when a complex high school assignment is behind schedule and the student struggles to complete it in time. Time for Super Mom or Super Dad to step in and save the day!
From a practical matter, is the student the one asking how they can help volunteer for a community service organization, or is the parent the one that sets up the activity? Although most parents would say that “helping” their son or daughter is their only option, this support may include some long-term harm. What will happen when their kid is in college and the parent can no longer “own” or get involved with the activity?
Topics: College Applications, Community Service, college preparation, college admissions, high school senior, high school junior, high school sophomore, volunteering, extracurricular activities
Who, What, where, when, and Why
One of the most revered times for a parent is the college visit. When done properly, it can be one of the best experiences to get to know your child beyond their activities and schoolwork. Most important is that the focus of the visit is solely on the child applying for colleges. It’s not about mom or dad’s busy career(s) or about a sibling and their life. Most importantly, it is about choice—the ability to choose any academic focus at any one of hundreds of colleges. Oh, and they will likely be living somewhere else for four years. And doing (or not doing) their laundry and making (or not making) their bed.
We are approaching the time of year when parents take students on college visits. I was prompted to write this particular blog post because it seems as if college visits follow some secretive set of rules. My thoughts are to try and bring some pause and reflection to the process with the hope of making it a more productive experience for all.
Topics: College Applications, college preparation, college admissions, college tours, college visits, college counseling, high school senior, high school junior, high school sophomore, small liberal arts college, vacation week, college info session
Topics: College Essays, College Applications, college preparation, college admissions, college counseling, high school senior, high school junior, chatgpt, Artificial Intelligence, personal statement
What has changed with College Admissions since Varsity Blues ?
To refresh your memory, in 2019, a scandal arose over a criminal conspiracy to influence undergraduate admissions decisions at several top American universities.Rick Singer, the shamed college counselor, synonymous with what is known as Operation Varsity Blues, is going to jail for 3 and a half years—proving that “crime doesn’t pay”. This video recaptures the news the day the scandal broke. But what has happened since the scandal was birthed?
These seven stages initiated from the epicenter of Varsity Blues:
- An Awakening — Most parents and students were aware of how competitive college admissions had become at top tier schools. But Varsity Blues uncovered the sheer panic that precipitated those with means—the rich and famous—to step so low as to cheat and bribe their way into college. If the entitled were freaking out, that confirmed just how difficult college admissions would be for everyone.
- The Reaction: Close the Loopholes — Colleges didn’t want the press they were likely to get, so any backdoor privileges, special handshakes or any semblance of impropriety were shut down. Any candidate applying for a sports position had to follow new procedures, as did the respective college staff.
- Skepticism sets in: Don’t trust the College Counselor — Was every college counselor like Rick Singer? If he couldn’t help students without cheating, what was the average family going to do? It’s possible that some who would have otherwise gone to a college counselor chose to go it alone.
- The COVID Factor — The pandemic initiated a nationwide test optional blanket covering nearly every school in the country. Students applied to schools that otherwise would be out of reach if they were to submit their test scores.
- Application Growth — More applications at top tier schools triggered even more selectivity. Colleges got laser focused with their admit rates and yield.
- Admit Rates Drop — The reality of single digit admit rates kicks in and morphs in a viral fashion. Once parents heard stories or witnessed their own children getting denied and deferred, they panicked and applied to even more schools, accelerating selectivity and lowering their own children’s admit rates.
- Reception Towards Receiving College Advice Returns – As parents get confused and frustrated with the difficult college process, some begin to seek help from counselors for professional college advice.
While few could have predicted the impact that this scandal, followed swiftly by the COVID-19 pandemic, could have on college admissions, here are six steps to take that address the current admissions situation:
Topics: College Applications, college preparation, college admissions, early decision, early action, college selection, operation varsity blues, college counseling, high school senior, high school junior, college search, college admit rates, Rick Singer, independent educational consultants