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College Talk Blog

Career Planning and College

Tuition Sticker Shock Season is Here!

Tuition is high and getting higher. The way to save money is to be a smart college shopper. That means college searching and deciding should be a family affair rather than left to high school juniors to figure out.

You would not send a sixteen year old to a car dealership to buy a car on his own -and a car costs much less than college. College costs are more to house prices. Given that fact and the fact that parents would like to retire one day, it is in the best interests of parents to be involved in the search and decision process.

Do what you love

Teens are focusing more and more on careers where they would love going to work every day. Most feel if they can love what they do, they will never feel like they are working. An encouraging trend is that their parents are allowing them to choose the thing they love rather than forcing them into a career because of job vacancy rates.

The wisdom in both the student and parent point of view is that job vacancy rates change dramatically and students who are majoring in what they love are more likely to graduate from college and find employment.

Junior Year is Critical

All years of high school are important to preparing for college. Ninth and tenth grade are years when students jump-start both their GPA and their activity resume. Eleventh grade is the year that students ramp up college efforts with visits, essays and an ever increasing amount of rigor in their courses and leadership in their extra-curriculars. Twelfth grade is the year students continue to add rigor to their course schedule and more leadership to their activity resume.

Too often, both students and parents are unaware of the important role that each year of high school plays in preparing students for college.

What do colleges want?

Colleges want students who are intellectually curious and altruistic and who want to grow. They are also looking for students who are grounded, welcome a challenge and have a reasonable chance of success at their institution. Having a good work ethic and evidence of playing (and studying) well with others are also a plus. In addition to all of those things, colleges want students who want to be at their institution to study a major that they offer.

Each prospective admissions candidate has many of these attributes but in different levels of personality and skill development.

Advice from the Class of 2017

As my students near graduation, I ask them what advice they are giving younger siblings and friends who are currently juniors and sophomores. The Class of 2017 agreed that the most important advice they are giving the classes of 2018 and 2019 is toSTART THE COLLEGE PROCESS EARLIER!

Most members of the Class of 2017 encountered surprises. The most common surprise they reported was how competitive college admission has gotten. Many of them thought a 3.75 GPA and a 1250 SAT score would be enough to get them admitted wherever they wanted except the ivies.