On April 11th the Guidance Department hosted a parent coffee for junior parents where a panel of senior parents shared advice about supporting their child through the college application process. Thank you to Faith Bannister, Monica Bushnell, Tina Caro, and Erica Reilly for being a part of the panel!
Below is a summary of the advice that was shared based on what worked best for each family.
Organizing the college application process
- One strategy is to pick one day a week to talk about college so as not to overwhelm your child with college talk- especially if they aren’t much of a talker.
- Keep a spreadsheet of the colleges and their deadlines
- The Fiske Guide to Colleges and Demystifying College Admissions are great books to refer to.
- Let your child drive the process and know that not everything will be done in the most efficient way. Yes, it’s helpful to have the college essay written before senior year begins, but if your child isn’t feeling inspired and in the mindset to write at that time it might not turn out to be the best essay.
- Build some fun into it. Find the best consignment store in town or enjoy fun things to do in the area. Eat in the dining hall.
- Keep it casual. Your child doesn’t have to decide if they are going to apply right after the visit. Think of it as simply gathering information about likes and dislikes
- Know that there’s no perfect school for anyone. Instead, think about what qualities each school on your child’s list has that would help them to be happy and successful.
- After the college tour don’t say anything. Let your child talk first about their thoughts
- One parent referred to a daunting part of the college info sessions called “the slide” where the admissions counselor brings up a slide with statistics about the number of AP courses, GPAs, and standardized test scores for their applicants. This can feel defeating to your child, but just because they don’t meet all that criteria it doesn’t mean that they won’t be accepted. Colleges are marketing themselves and want to appear selective.
- Apply where you want to go. It can’t hurt to try even if it’s a reach. Just make sure there are matches and likelys on your list.
- Keep your blinders on. Social media and talk in the community can make things difficult. Do what you feel is right for your family and your child.
- Keep in mind that many Medfield students apply early action and will hear back in December. It can be difficult if your child hasn’t sent in any applications while their peers already have decisions in hand. Applying to a few likely schools early if your child is ready may be helpful. At the same time, applying regular decision can be nice because everything feels less rushed in the fall.
- There comes a point with the SATs or ACTs where the scores don’t change much. Taking one or both tests twice was the common number. At some point students should focus their energy on something else they have more control over.
- Interviews- if you can, consider not interviewing the same day you do the campus tour and info session. It will be easier to go into an interview after you’ve had time to process your thoughts from the visit. If a college offers an optional interview and it’s one of your child’s top choices definitely take advantage of it. A lot of the big schools don’t provide it as an option.
- Whether or not interviews are offered have your child get to know the regional rep for each college. They can be a great source of information and an ally in the process. It can almost turn into an informal interview.
- ED is tricky as some students have a first choice early on in the process and then change their mind later on as they learn about more schools. You also may not have as many opportunities for merit scholarships and you are saying “yes” to a school before knowing what the financial aid looks like. The plus side is that if it’s truly the first choice and financially it works for the family, it might help to give the student a bit of an edge in the admissions process.
- Don’t not apply to a school because of the price tag. One parent said that they would be paying less to go to a private school than UMASS because the private school offered merit scholarships. You never know what you will be asked to pay.
- A great tip about the college essay- “If your child’s college essay fell out of their notebook while walking down the hallway at school and their name wasn’t on it, would people know it was theirs?”
- Know that you can only control so much. Help your child understand how to “separate the decision outcome from their own self worth”. Your child’s application could be amazing in every way, but you never know what the admissions committee’s priorities are that year. They are building a class.
- Be open to unexpected outcomes. There may be disappointment with one school but a surprise yes at another school. One child was accepted to a college but was asked to go abroad for the first semester. It’s possible your child could get into their dream school but then realize when they get there it’s not what they expected. Sometimes the “nos” can lead to something else great.
- There are going to be “speed bumps and potholes” along the way, so expect that going into it. In the realm of life, your child is going to get nos- not getting the job they interviewed for or the promotion they want, etc. That’s your biggest role as a parent is to support them through the nos they will inevitably experience in life.
- Social media during decision release can be tough. There are group chats for colleges and oftentimes students are alerted about the date and time decisions will be released. Students immediately post their outcomes to the group chats and this can be overwhelming. Consider making a plan about how your child will manage this before decisions are released.
- Tell your child “I don’t care what the sweatshirt says, I’m going to wear it with pride” whether its a selective school or not.