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College Talk Blog

Planning for College Success

My kid gets defensive when I want to talk about college

The reason that parents and students sometimes have difficulty talking about college is that students feel a responsibility to take care of college decisions and tasks themselves. They may feel that inquiring parents are butting in to something that is the decision of the student. 

At the same time that students feel that they should manage the college process, many feel unsure of the process and timeline and put college tasks off. Parents, concerned about student success, feel the need to question students about where they are in the process: "Have you written your essay yet?


Talking to students every day, I notice that they are often unaware of how they measure up as an applicant to colleges. Generally, they underestimate themselves. Most students I've met this application season are more competitive than they realize.

The reason students underestimate themselves is that they often think they need a higher GPA and test scores than they actually do. In addition to not knowing the actual requirements they need, they often do not realize the role of other things about themselves that make them good candidates for admission such as student activity accomplishments, volunteerism and employment.

Is 8th grade too early?

Families often ask when they should start preparing a child for college and when they should bring their child in for college advising.
Preparing a child for college is a developmental process that includes academic decisions as well as developing the whole child. So the college preparation process begins very early. If a child does not get a good foundation in reading, writing and math, it is hard to catch up later. Similarly, if a child does not know about college, he may not see how important academics and extra-curricular choices can be.

Don't miss out on special opportunities for college freshmen

Colleges are increasingly offering a variety of special programs for incoming freshmen that offer additional experiences, prestige and sometimes scholarship money. To be considered for these programs sometimes called honors or leadership programs, students must indicate their interest on their college admission application and file their college application early.
There are many benefits to honors and leadership programs. Students should take a look at these options to determine if they have an interest, if they feel the programs are a good fit for them and if they feel they will have the extra time such programs often require.

Do kids need help choosing?

We're so accustomed to kids doing their own thing in the college choice arena that we don't take time to consider the what- ifs:
  •   1) What if she chooses a college we can't afford?
  •   2) What support services do they offer to help him graduate on time and get a great job?
  •   3) What if my kid changes his major-How much more money and time will that mean?
We also wrongly assume that schools have the budgets to provide the expertise and time for the much needed individual counseling to make sure that the student is going in the right direction and that good choices are being made.