Parents, let’s be honest with ourselves here: it’s been more than a few years since we applied to college. We got our applications mailed to us, typed out some answers, requested transcripts, and we were on our way. It was a simpler time when colleges only had to review a few thousand applications, relying primarily on high school transcripts and test scores. When I was applying to college you could apply on your computer, but that meant calling and asking for a computer disk to be mailed to you and you mailing it back—this was the height of technology a few decades back.
With our annual Junior Parent Night on the horizon (Wednesday, February 6 at 6:00 pm in the library), I thought that it would make sense to give parents in particular a little insight into what your student may start going through as they begin their college search. Not only that, but to recognize some of the changes that may have happened in the years since you attended college so that you can better understand what the landscape really looks like now.
Technology is incredibly helpful, but dangerous too. It makes applying to college so much easier and faster. I can apply to 50 schools with a few clicks of a button. I can know all about a school without ever stepping foot on campus by reading everything on a website, taking virtual tours, and interacting on social media. These are good tools to have, but there is also a lot of bad information out there and we have to be careful. The amount of time our students spend on websites like Reddit or CollegeConfidential getting information is scary. Students are ranking each other on how likely it is that they will be admitted, even though they have yet to even complete the application process. They see the one kid who got in as the complete expert, even though we don’t know the whole story. There is a lot of misinformation out there and we need to be mindful that not everyone has our best interests out there.
To that end, with any of the information out there, I would ask the following questions:
- Where is this information coming from? Is it directly from the Admission Office or is a friend of a friend who once heard something? Obviously directly from a school or counselor is best in every case. Just because your aunt’s best-friend’s hairdresser’s niece got into the school doing these three things does not mean that you will.
- What is the point of the information? Most colleges and universities are trying to calm down the hysteria surrounding admission. You won’t see a college say “take every AP class out there” or that “your activities don’t mean anything unless you win—they just want you to do the best you can and be involved.”
- Will this information actually help me? Are you a senior who is just now applying to college and trying to shove 6 new activities into your schedule? Colleges see right through that. Be sincere in your interests.
- Why is this school on my list in the first place? If the first answer is perceived prestige then you are missing the mark. Think about what the college will offer you and how you will be able to achieve those goals. Find a school who loves you for who you are.
I spend so much time with parents and students debunking information that they have heard or read somewhere. Please come ask us or ask the office of admission directly, we will all be happy to help you out.