College Planning

Unique 2016 summer reading list — from college admissions counselors and deans

There’s great fiction and non-fiction; books on parenting (and “overparenting”), history and science. And, of course, there are, not surprisingly, books on college, getting in and staying there and what to post-college. You are likely to recognize some of the recommended authors, such as David Sedaris, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Angela Duckworth, Atul Gawande — but the list will also expose you to some new ones.

The View from the Bleachers: The Parent’s Role in the College Process

Time and time again parents sit in our office and reflect, “I don’t remember it being like this when I applied to college” and, indeed, the process has changed in some important ways over the past few decades. More colleges are making standardized testing optional, students are sending out more applications, and admissions is becoming increasingly competitive. As this process becomes increasingly complex and, unfortunately, increasingly stressful, there are several things parents can do to help their child make this a more rewarding and successful experience.

SAT Subject Tests: Another Testing Task or an Opportunity to Shine?

A high score on an SAT Subject Test is a valuable asset for applicants to certain highly selective schools. Making the most of this opportunity can be difficult, however. When student and parent fatigue surrounding pre-college planning is already quite high, the need to make additional decisions can feel overwhelming. Armed with a little knowledge and guidance, however, students can make informed choices and increase their chances of success on these tests.

Facts About Financial Aid

There are a lot of myths surrounding financial aid – which is not surprising because the information about it is can be confusing, so let’s start with the basics. Financial aid is money distributed primarily by the federal government and colleges in the form of student loans, grants, scholarships, and work-study jobs. Loans and work-study must be repaid; grants and scholarships do not.

There are two main categories of financial aid: Need-based and merit-based. Need-based, which is the most common, depends on your child’s “financial need”. Merit-based is awarded according to your child’s academic, athletic, musical, or artistic merit.

With that in mind, here are five useful facts about the need-based variety:

Fact #1: There is more than one way to determine “financial need”

Many people are familiar with the federal government application known as FAFSA, which uses a formula known as the “federal methodology”. Generally speaking, parent and child income and assets are included in the formula that drives the expected family contribution (or EFC). To calculate “financial need”, one must subtract the EFC from the cost at a particular college.

But FAFSA isn’t the only way to determine “financial need”; many colleges have their own way. While similar to the “federal methodology”, the “institutional methodology” often takes a deeper dive into your financial situation in an effort to discern true need. For example, the “institutional methodology” frequently considers retirement assets, while the FAFSA / “federal methodology” does not.

Fact #2: Parental income is a larger factor driving “financial need” than parental assets

Parent’s income can be assessed at rates as high as 47%, making it a major factor driving the “financial need” calculation. In contrast, parent’s includable assets are assessed only between 2.64% and 5.64%. So it is common for families with healthy incomes but very little in savings to have a very low “financial need”. From a practical standpoint, unless you anticipate that your cash flow during your child’s college years will cover his or her college expenses, it’s worth saving for the future.

Fact #3: ”Financial need” does always equate to “met need”

It is very common for colleges to meet only a portion of the calculated “financial need”, which means that you will be “gapped.” In this situation, you will need to make up the “gap” in addition to paying the expected family contribution. We suggest comparing different school’s abilities to meet student’s financial needs, which requires some research.

Fact #4: It’s not a “set it and forget it” process

Families of students seeking financial assistance will need to complete the financial aid application process annually. Unfortunately, the system does not operate like the admissions process in which the student runs the gauntlet once and then never again. As a result, we recommend that families have a good filing system for financial documents in order to make the annual process as painless as possible.

Fact #5: Your student may need to complete a FAFSA form even if you don’t apply for financial aid

As odd as it may seem, some colleges and universities require parents to complete the FAFSA form for all scholarships, even those that are merit based. So if your child is applying for a scholarship, be sure to check the college’s web site to see if it is required – and call the school directly if the web site language isn’t clear.

For more information about financial aid and how it fits into your family’s overall financial picture, please contact our office. We would be happy to refer you to qualified professionals.

College Matters: Testing, Testing

The Mental Preparation for Standardized Testing

 Guest blog post by Drew Heilpern, PhD

 

"My son or daughter is horrible at taking standardized tests" is a common refrain that we hear as we talk to parents about the college admissions standardized testing process.  This can be due to a number of factors, but often the biggest hurdle that students must overcome to reach their full potential on these tests is the fear and anxiety that surrounds them.

To combat this fear, I encourage my students and parents to try to keep these tests in perspective.  The tests are important, but they are not the "be all end all" in the college admissions process.  Colleges look at many other factors.  Grades and the rigor of courses taken in high school are in fact the top two criteria that college admission officers consider when reviewing applicants.  Standardized testing is third.

Planning to take the test more than once can also relieve some of the stress of these tests.  Most colleges honor score choice, which means if a test did not go as well as expected, students do not need to send those scores to schools.  Thus, colleges will never see them. I remind my students to go into the test with the attitude of having everything to gain and nothing to lose.  If the test goes well, that is fantastic.  If it did not, they will still have another chance at it on a later test date.

I also remind my students to try to think about these tests as more of a rite of passage and not an intelligence test.  Their performance on these tests does not define who they are and what they are capable of.  At the end of the day, it is just a test.  Similarly, I also encourage my students to focus on themselves throughout this process and to not worry about how their friends did or are doing.  I know that this can be incredibly challenging, but the purpose of the college search is to find the college that is the best fit.  No two students are identical; each one has different likes and different needs.  I always encourage my students to focus on what they need and not worry about everyone else.

Forming a plan is an important first step in achieving success on these tests.  Knowing which tests the students are going to take (ACT, SAT, Subject Tests), when they are going to take them, and how they are going to prepare can go a long way in alleviating stress.  I always remind students that there is no overall perfect plan, but there is a perfect plan for them.  There are many different ways to prepare for these tests and many different paths to success, but not walking into these tests completely cold and having a plan of attack for them provides a huge confidence booster.

Lastly, I encourage my students to approach the standardized test as a game and an opportunity for them to show off and show what they can do.  I encourage them to try to have a little fun with it.  Hopefully, with this perspective, the standardized testing process does not seem so intimidating.

Drew Heilpern, PhD is the general manager of Summit Educational Group's1-1 in home tutoring division for test preparation and academic support.  For the past 25+ years Summit has worked with thousands of students to help them reach their full academic potential.

Keeping It in Perspective

It is easy for students and their parents to feel overwhelmed at this time of year. High school seniors are finishing applications or waiting for decisions if they've applied early. Their parents may be gathering financial aid documents and wondering what kind of costs they can expect next year, as well as imagining how life will soon change with a child away at college. Juniors and their parents are anticipating the uncharted territory ahead. With these dynamics in mind, we offer some reminders to help you keep the college admission process in perspective during the holiday season and into the New Year.

There IS a college for your child. If your high schooler applies to some schools that are likely to accept him, some that are just right given his interests and abilities, and perhaps a "reach" or two, chances are he WILL find his place. In the unlikely event that your child isn't accepted anywhere, know that there are many good colleges that take applications on a rolling admissions basis right up until the fall.

Try to stay flexible and open. It's easy for a senior to get his heart set on going to a particular college. Remember that there is more than one place where he can be happy, challenged, and successful.

The college process is a lot of work, and it can be emotionally intense. Applying to college can be a challenging process - it requires patience, diligence, and self-analysis.  Try not to rush the process - giving yourselves plenty of time is the single best way to reduce the stress.

There will be new costs on the horizon. Not knowing exactly what the cost of college will be, or quite how you will pay for it can be disconcerting. Fortunately, there are many excellent and free tools at your disposal. For example: Finaid.org is a good resource for understanding the financial aid/FAFSA process. College Abacus utilizes net price calculators to compare costs of attendance at nearly 4,000 institutions. You can also consult with a financial advisor (the earlier in the process, the better).  Keeping your financial documents organized and budgeting time for managing college financing questions helps, too.

Keep it in perspective. Try to minimize stress for yourself and your child. College is just one step on your child's life-long journey. Try to keep in mind the end goal for yourselves as parents and, more importantly, for your child. We hope that it involves the development of a happy, healthy, independent adult.

Behind the Scenes: How Admissions Offices Evaluate Applications

The early decision and early action applications are being sent off. Suddenly students who were working very hard may find themselves with no college-related work to do, for a time. Some might rejoice, while others find it very hard to wait for an answer, and are anxious to know the status of their applications. So what actually happens in an admissions office once those Common Applications are uploaded? The file review process varies from school to school and depends on the size and type of institution, its selectivity, and the school's own culture. Many admissions officers would acknowledge that it's an imperfect process that is part artistry, part science. In general, students are assessed relative to the applicant pool and to the school's enrollment objectives. Each student is considered on his or her own merits, but also as a member of a class that reflects the demographics of society as a whole. Your student, then, is valued for how they contribute to that mix.

While larger universities typically use a formula based on standardized test scores, GPA, and other pertinent information to calculate a student's admissibility, most schools review each and every application personally and thoroughly. Students can be assured that their application will be reviewed by a committee comprised of admissions counselors, faculty members, current students, part-time/seasonal staff, or any combination of the above. The fact that several different people representing a variety of perspectives and interests review each file reflects their effort to make the process as fair as possible.

After they review the file, admission committee members assign students a ranking, either numeric or alphabetical. Applicants with the highest scores are typically admitted and those with the lowest ranking are usually denied. It is the applications that fall in the middle that receive the greatest attention. At this point the colleges are looking to fine-tune the composition of the incoming class and each applicant is evaluated for the ways in which they might uniquely contribute to the school based on their particular strengths and talents.

Admissions offices are always interested in increasing their "yield", or the number of admitted students who actually matriculate at their school. A student's "demonstrated interest" can be a good indicator of their likelihood of attending, so many admissions committees note if the applicant visited their campus, met with them at a college fair, interviewed, joined the group when the college visited the student's high school, or utilize social media to learn more about a college. Quality of the interaction counts.

Admissions officers also read letters of recommendation carefully and look specifically to see if what others have to say about the applicant supports the information the student has provided in his application. Is the student the passionate scholar he claims to be? Is she really a leader in a meaningful way or are her positions merely titular?

Finally, some students may be "on the bubble" because of their academic standing. If their grades are close, but not quite, what the admissions office would like to see, they may wait until the third quarter grades are released to make their decision. At this point no applicant really knows where they stand in the admission pool, so it is important that seniors continue to strive to get the best grades possible.

For many, this period of waiting can be stressful. Know that admissions counselors are doing their best to weigh every piece of an application to make the best and fairest decision possible. In the meantime, keep working hard, and keep your fingers crossed.

The New SAT

By now parents of current sophomores will have heard about the redesigned SAT that will launch in March of 2016. What's changing, and why should it matter to you and your child?

What's Changing

The College Board has overhauled the SAT to better reflect student achievement and Common Core standards, as well as to better compete against the ACT and increase its share of the testing market.

The College Board offers a summary of what it calls "Eight Key Changes."  These are:

  • Relevant Words in Context
  • Command of Evidence
  • Essay Analyzing a Source
  • Focus on Math that Matters Most
  • Problems Grounded in Real-World Contexts
  • Analysis in Science and in History/Social Studies
  • Founding Documents and Great Global Conversation
  • No Penalty for Wrong Answers

We highly recommend that parents of 10th graders read this excellent article by Charlie O'Hearn of Summit Educational Group, which outlines the redesign and also offers recommendations for the class of 2017. Here's his synopsis of the most important differences between the old and new SATs:

"Among the notable thematic changes are:  1) A Math Test that emphasizes a narrower but deeper grasp of algebra, de-emphasizes geometry, and puts more questions in real-world context; 2) Reading, Writing, and Language Tests that require students to cite evidence for their answers, analyze writing, and discern Tier 2 vocabulary definitions from context; and 3) Questions and content that better reflect the work that students undertake in the country's "best high school courses."  More specific changes include a return to the 1600-point scale, an overhaul of the essay section (including making it optional), the addition of a no-calculator math section, and rights-only scoring (i.e., no penalty for wrong answers)."

Why It Matters

To help manage the anxiety and uncertainty that can accompany standardized testing, we encourage our high school clients to have a testing plan for themselves. This might include taking both a diagnostic ACT and an SAT to determine which test to choose, selecting testing dates and registering well in advance, purchasing and studying a guidebook, taking a practice test, and working on-on-one with a test prep tutor.

Unfortunately, there are no practice tests available yet for the new SAT, nor do we have concordance tables that show an ACT score that compares to a new SAT score. Some current 10th graders may benefit by taking the old SAT in the fall of 2015, while most would be well-advised to consider taking the ACTs instead in the spring of 2016. Again, we refer you to the Summit article and its testing guidelines table.

 

Rancorous Rankings and Immolated Ivies

Recent articles that question, and support, the benefits of an Ivy League education have made waves in the media. "Don't Send Your Kids To the Ivy League," William Deresiewicz proclaimed in The New Republic. Steven Pinker countered with "The Trouble With Harvard: The Ivy League is broken and only standardized tests can fix it." The debates about the value of a highly selective college education, and the perceived lack of equity in the admissions process at these and other schools may never end. That's not a bad thing, as far as we're concerned. Frank and open debate and differing opinions are the lifeblood of higher education, after all. Another hot topic - for families, educational consultants and educational institutions themselves - is rankings. US News and World Report just released its much-followed Best Colleges rankings. We're not big fans of rankings: the data is subjective, incomplete, and easily manipulated (read Boston Magazine's article on Northeastern's "gaming" of the rankings for more insight on one institution's approach to improving its position on the list). We understand that they serve as a starting point for many people; our suggestion, if you're going to consider rankings, is that you consider many different rankings, from multiple sources, with diverse data points.

At AHP, we don't make sweeping pronouncements that either condemn or celebrate the Ivies (or any other consortium for that matter) across the board, because what matters most to us as educational consultants is to help our clients find the right fit. For them.That means working one-on-one with high school juniors and seniors to help clarify their strengths and challenges, goals and aspirations, preferences and dislikes, when it comes to the ideal learning and living environment for this next stage of their lives. Our role is to help students create their very own rankings list: one that is just right for them, that takes into account the variables that matter to them and their families. So read the reviews and the rankings and follow the debates if you will, but please rest easy knowing that ultimately there is only #1 college: the one that's the best fit for your child.

Writing Tips: Be Your Best Self

  “Be your best self, clearly, concisely and entertainingly.”

In this one sentence, Harry Bauld (in On Writing The College Application Essay) succinctly captures the goal of a college application’s personal statement.

Who is your best self? That’s your authentic voice, the person who shines through when you’ve cut away all the unessential facts and details (think: Hemingway). You know your best self is evident in your writing when a close friend or family member reads the piece and responds with delight, “Yes! That sounds just like you!”

What is clear? Clarity in a college essay means simply that the reader doesn’t have to struggle to understand the point you're making. Your thoughts and ideas unfold easily, effortlessly, neatly. They flow.

Being concise is critical to the success of the essay not simply because there’s a word limit but because – as you probably already know- it’s much harder to write something short and good, than it is to go on at length. The personal essay is a place to showcase your best writing. So give us “Less, but better.”

Why “entertainingly”? Because the personal statement is NOT an expository essay. You’ve listed your accomplishments elsewhere on the application, and your recommenders have already sung your praises. If you can entertain the reader – that is, draw her in, capture her imagination, and leave her with a sense of who you are- then you have released her temporarily from the effort of slogging through a mountain of less interesting essays, and you WILL be remembered. And that, ultimately, is the goal of the college essay.

Summer is prime college essay writing time for rising seniors. We’ll have more tips and reflections on making your personal statement shine in the coming weeks.

Read!

My unabashedly honest reply to an innocuous college interview question pretty much put the kibosh on my application to a certain not-to-be-named college. When the interviewer asked me what book I was currently reading, I sweetly replied, Love Story. As you can imagine, the interviewer was painfully unimpressed and things went downhill from there. I never bothered to submit an application. Here’s where the fateful twist comes in: If he had asked me what book I had just finished reading, I would have answered "Atlas Shrugged" and our conversation might have gone differently. The thing was, my mother was a voracious reader who chose books across a broad spectrum. When I was in high school, I often picked up whatever book she had just put down. I wasn’t that discriminating – I just loved to read and my mother generally had excellent taste. But there were exceptions, like this tear-jerker romance.

So, here’s my advice to rising seniors: Read. Read a lot. And not just beach fiction. Read books that challenge you, inspire you, pique your imagination, make you think. While Love Story may be a dated reference, you stand as good a chance of being asked this question as I did, so prepare. Think about what the books you are reading mean to you, how they’ve helped you to see people, situations, the world, and even yourself in a different light. And if you’re enjoying some delightfully trashy novel, make sure the next book you read is one you can speak thoughtfully about.

Start Now for a Less Stressful Senior Year

There’s no denying that spring of junior year is a busy and challenging time and the work load will continue to be intense through fall of your senior year – and beyond. You’ll be writing essays, preparing applications and visiting colleges in addition to carrying a full course load and participating in activities that are meaningful to you. One way to prepare for the increasing demands on your time, energy, and attention is to designate some quiet time this summer to begin your college applications. You might schedule a two-hour block of time once or twice a week, every week, from June through August to refine your college list, brainstorm essay ideas (see the Common Application prompts for 2014-2015 to get started), and begin working on your Common Application. Distributing some of the work over the summer will help you hit the ground running in the fall.

Now is not the time to let up, juniors.  Dig in and finish the semester strong. “High school really is an exercise of the mind,” writes Beth Anne Spacht in the University of Richmond admissions blog.  For more good tips, take a look at her post about planning your senior year schedule.

Finish Strong, Juniors!

I think that it could be fairly argued that never is more expected of students than in the spring of the junior year. Never again will they be taking 5 core academic subjects and expected to be highly and evenly proficient across all areas of study.  Never again will they have so many standardized tests (SATs, ACTs, and APs) and final exams administered in the same narrow 4-block window. And never again will they have to do this while navigating the social complexities of a junior prom. On top of all of this, the college process pulls on their time, attention, and energy. It’s no wonder that juniors start to show signs of fatigue this time of year. And now, what are we going to say to you? Finish strong. This is, after all, the “semester that really counts” as colleges look to see how students are maturing as scholars (and athletes, artists, leaders, and so on) and what you can do when the demands on your intellect and abilities is increased. You’ve worked hard all year, so keep up your pace as you near the finish line.

But we also want to make sure that you are keeping yourself healthy.  As important as studying is, getting plenty of sleep, exercising , and eating well are as important to your success. Work hard, but make your health a priority.

When you’ve crossed the finish line on the last day of school, celebrate! You’ve probably gone through the most demanding period of your education. Unless you’re planning on going off to medical school, that is, but that’s another story for another time.

What Can We Do Now?

Here are some suggestions about what families can do this summer to get off to the best possible start next year, and -as a result- feel a bit less stressed about transitioning to, or applying to college and independent school. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list; rather, we hope to plant some seeds that you and your family can grow together. Will your child be a college freshman in the fall?

If you have a rising senior:

  • Review our College Application Timeline so you have a sense of what to expect next year.
  • Encourage your child to put together a basic resume. It will be useful for internships and co-op programs in college, and the act of compiling his work history will be a useful exercise in self-reflection.

Will your child be a junior this fall?

  • Encourage her to clean up her social media presence this summer. Read How to Clean Up Your Social Media for College Applications.
  • Review our College Application Timeline so you understand what’s ahead, in broad terms.
  • Suggest your student begin work on the Common Application (it goes live on August 1; essay questions are already available).
  • Together you can visit some nearby colleges. Keep in mind that campuses feel different in the summer than they do during the school year; these visits can be leisurely and may give your child a chance to gather initial impressions.
  • Consider signing her up for a pre-college program if your child would benefit from academic enrichment.
  • Encourage him to find a summer job!

If you have younger students:

  • Ask them to think about one new thing they want to try next year. It could be anything: take a class outside of school, learn to sing, play an instrument, do calligraphy, try a new sport, or perhaps take on a leadership role in an area that is familiar to them.
  • Begin to prepare for the ISEE and/or SSAT. Your student could prepare on his own with a test-prep guide, or get help from a tutor (there are many good tutors available; we’re happy to provide recommendations). Parents can follow a recorded webinar, “All about the SSAT,” or read What to Expect on the ISEE, to get background on the tests.

Fall comes quickly, and you’ll be back to your regular school and workday routines before you know it. Consider these possibilities, or come up with your own list, and know that any small steps you take now will pay off later when your family is reimmersed in the excitement (and sometimes chaos) of the academic year.

Why high school students should have jobs

Employment is one of the most under-rated  pieces of a college application, but admissions officers like to see that students have successfully held jobs - either paid or volunteer positions. In addition to being an opportunity to acquire important life skills and demonstrate broad competence here are more reasons why employment matters: * The student has been accountable to someone other than their parents and teachers for their work

* They've had to manage their time, sometimes sacrificing "fun" for work.

* They've had a chance to work with people from different backgrounds, with difference experiences and education, and of different ages than the people they come in contact with during a typical day.

* They've learned how to do work that can be tedious without quitting.

* They've learned the value of a dollar.

Opportunities for summer employment are still available - if you can't find anything locally, here are some other internships to investigate.

How do I choose?

Determining which college’s offer of admission to accept is a highly personal decision, but there are some factors that don’t merit much weight: DON’T select a college for its perceived prestige.  Focus instead on the quality of the particular program/course of study that you are interested in and the opportunities offered.

DON’T select a college because you believe it will guarantee you job placement. What you know and how you can apply that knowledge (not where you learned it) will help you most in landing a job. That said, do your homework: visit the career services department, learn more about the number and variety of internships offered in your area of study and learn more about the scope of services they provide.

DON’T select a college for the social opportunities. Find a college with students with different backgrounds and experiences but who share your interests and values. If you go to school with people you like and admire, your social life will take care of itself.

DON’T select a college because your friends are going there or it’s the hot school right now. Find the school that is right for you in all the ways that are important to YOU.

Most importantly, DO attend the revisit days! The most important piece of data that you can only get on a revisit day is a sense of who your classmates will be. Go and meet them. If they seem like people you’d enjoy spending four years with, you may have found your college.

Her Campus National Pre-Collegiette Conference

Allison will be a panelist at the Her Campus Pre-Collegiette Conference speaking about how to choose the college that is right for you. This conference is open to all high-school aged girls and their parents and workshops, talks, and panel discussions will cover a broad range of topics from how to complete your college applications, applying for internships, how to stay healthy in college, and the experience of life on dorm. This conference will be held on Saturday, April 26 from 9:30am-4:30pm. Speakers are coming from Harvard University, Tufts University, and more, plus a college nutritionist, leading college coaches, internship advisors, and college girls who will talk about everything from study tips to studying abroad.

 

Parenting Through the College Process

Time and time again parents sit in our office and reflect, “I don’t remember it being like this when I applied to college” and, indeed, the process has changed in some important ways.  More colleges are making standardized testing optional, admissions is increasingly competitive, students are completing more applications, and parents are more involved in the process than ever before.  For parents of college bound students, we offer these words of advice to help make the college process more successful and rewarding:

  • Focus on Fit: Help your student remember that college is first and foremost about the academic experience.  Colleges offer some very enticing options including gourmet food options, dorm suites outfitted with full kitchens, athletic centers featuring state-of-the-art equipment, and cyber-cafes at every turn.  All this is can distract from what should be at the center of their college experience – the academic program.  Help your student assess the quality, breadth, and depth of the curriculum and the level of academic rigor and type of academic support.
  • Accommodate your student’s style: If your student has been a procrastinator for 17 years, the college process isn’t going to draw out Type A qualities.  Know your student’s strengths and weaknesses and proceed accordingly.  If he is disorganized, set up organizational systems.  If time management is a struggle, set up timetables.  If visiting a lot of colleges will be overwhelming, limit the search.  Learning and behavioral styles are hard to change, so play to your student’s strengths and support their areas of weakness throughout the process.
  • Keep your student’s needs primary: Remember, you are not the college applicant.  While your college years may have been the best of your life, that doesn’t mean that your alma mater is perfect for your student.  Support your student’s decision about which college is the best place for them to spend their undergraduate years and avoid the temptation to compare it to “your college.”
  • Listen more, listen better: Starting sentences with “Tell me what you think about …” rather than “I think that…” will encourage your student to open up and will also send the message that you trust and value their opinions. While there are certainly times when a parent should share their perspectives, doing so too often is more likely to shut down conversation than to encourage honest dialog.
  • Allow plenty of time: Applying to college is probably the longest, most involved, and most difficult decision your student has ever had to make. There is also a very complex emotional component to this process – your student is leaving the comfort of school, friends, and family to venture into a world filled with unknowns.  Give them plenty of time and space to research and evaluate the tangible and intangible components of their decision.
  • Focus on the process:  The process of applying to college as just that – a process.  It has a beginning, middle, and an end and each student will go through the process in their own way, in their own time, hopefully taking on increasing responsibility and ownership. Ultimately, this is not just about “getting in”, but about developing self-awareness, clarifying values, and becoming self-sufficient.  When parents become too involved, the student loses the opportunity to go through this very maturing, self-actualizing process.
  • Don’t be afraid to be a spectator: First row seats don’t always provide the greatest view. Sometimes the best place to be is cheering from the bleachers.

The college process provides a unique opportunity in your student’s life to look back and be proud of what they’ve accomplished, think about who they are, articulate what they value, and consider where they want to go from here. Don’t rush the process to get to the finish line – this is an opportunity you may not have again to teach your student many important life lessons. And, just as you will come to know your child better, so too will they come to better know you.

 

 

 

How will YOUR kid get a job?

  Great op-ed in Sunday’s New York Times, Tom Friedman, but there’s a more important question that needs to be asked first.

BEFORE we ask our children/students/clients “which colleges are you applying to?”, BEFORE we ask “how’s my kid gonna get a job?”, we need to ask them this: “What makes your heart sing?”

The college and job searches are secondary.  Exploring, investigating and discovering what they love to do should come first, but too often high schoolers feel rushed to come up with a list of prestigious institutions to which they’ll apply.

If we buy into the idea that the ideal hire –as Laszlo Bock suggests- is someone who can apply his knowledge in innovative ways while utilizing well developed soft skills, then we first need to give our children the time and space to determine what they know (or want to know).

How do we do that? By asking questions of our children.

Try these, and don’t accept “I don’t know” as an answer.  Probe gently and keep attempting the question when an opportunity arises.

What do you love to do?

How would you spend your time if you could choose what to do all day long?

In what activity do you find you get so absorbed that you lose track of time?

What is it that sends you into the “zone”?

Then, when they’re operating from a place of genuine interest and engagement --one in which they don’t mind if they make mistakes because they’re so intent on knowing—we try to guide them in developing their emotional intelligence. (And that’s a topic for another post.)

Allison Matlack becomes Director of AHP Educational Consulting

AHP Educational Consulting is pleased to announce a transition in leadership. After 25 years of providing his expertise to clients and colleagues as Director, Tim Lee has made the decision to shift into a new role as Senior Consultant. Tim will continue to serve his clients, as well as assist in maintaining the growth of the practice. He is excited to have Allison Matlack assume the position of full-time Director.