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College Talk Blog

College Application Season

College application season is not what it used to be. Historically, due dates were in January. Now early application and early decision deadlines begin in the fall, as early as October 15. Some of my students were able to apply to colleges in the summer after 11th grade and got acceptance notices before their senior year began. 

Whether a student applies early or not depends on their ability to get applications and essays ready by fall and when they want to know their admission decisions. Early applicants find out early if they are in or not. That gives them more time to apply to other colleges during regular decision, if desired. Early admission applicants also have the luxury of having the time to get the best grades in their senior year and have time to apply for scholarships.

Parent No-No's in the College Process

One of my concerns as a bystander and supporter in the college process is keeping the parent and student relationship whole. In the last year or two that the student lives at home, it is important to evolve the relationship toward an adult-adult relationship that is more mentor-mentee than parent-child in nature.

The families I worry most about are those intent on keeping the relationship a parent-child relationship because that sets the stage for 2 undesirable consequences:
1) passive student not taking an active role in decisions or

Arts or Science?

Students majoring in performing arts including dance, music and theater as well as students who are planning to be college athletes often wonder out loud if they should choose a minor or second major that is not related to their performance skill. So one dance student is considering a rehabilitation minor while another is considering other medically-related options. College athletes wonder if they should prepare for a career that does not involve becoming a pro.

There is no easy answer to this conundrum. One approach is to do a second major or minor while another is to plan to return to college later when a performance career is no longer practical. While some students incorporate training in a career  that is naturally suited to people who have been full time performers, others pair an arts major with something totally different. The best matches are always consistent with natural talents of the student.

Senior Year Plans vs. College Plans

Students who are planning on taking it easy during their senior year need to compare their college goals to that plan. The higher their ambitions with regard to middle and top tier colleges, the less likely a light senior year is a good idea.

College admission officers at competitive schools are not impressed by senior year schedules that are less than full time...unless there is some other academic activity filling the gap where the missing classes should be. Some students take a less than full time load during senior year to take college classes, for example.

Stupid Admission Hacks

Students ask amazing questions about college admissions. Urban legends about how a student, whose qualifications are lower than average, can get into a very selective school have fueled interesting plots in this year's high school seniors. My favorites are:

  • apply for admission into a less popular program, like poultry science, to get in and then sneak into your preferred major
  • brag about how grandpa gave the college big bucks
  • have really high profile people, like legislators, send a letter of reference