Tips for Parents

How college admissions has turned into something akin to ‘The Hunger Games’

In an ideal world, college preparatory education would encourage students who crave knowledge, seek community engagement, desire connection and live their values. We say we want our children to feel secure, be inspired and take risks with their curiosity. The reality of “Hunger Games” comes closer to the truth, where students battle to survive in application pools seeming to demand perfection.

‘I will not help you hide your money when you apply for financial aid’ — and more straight talk from college admissions officers to parents

One of the hardest parts of a college admissions officer’s job — if not the hardest part — is dealing with some of the entitled or unrealistic parents of students who are trying to figure out where to apply to college. Here is a piece on things that college admissions officers say they would like to tell some of the parents with whom they deal — if they could be as blunt as they want — or things they actually say but that fall on deaf ears.

Independent School Admission 2015-2016: What you can do now

Are you starting to consider enrolling your child in an independent school in the fall of 2015? It’s not too early to begin the process. There are two important steps you can take now:

First, start to get a “feel” for schools by attending open houses this spring. Visit http://www.aisne.org/open-houses.html for a listing of upcoming open houses in your area.

Second, give your child an opportunity to “practice” taking the SSAT. The SSAT is an admissions test required by many independent schools but, unlike the SAT, there are no “unofficial” SSAT tests for students to take as practice. As such, we encourage students to take the SSAT this spring to get a sense of the content and timing of the test.  From your child’s scores we will be better able to gauge how much, if any, test preparation is needed and on which sections that energy should be focused. So, if your child will be submitting an application for Fall, 2015 entrance, now is a great time to try out the SSAT. AHP is offering a small-group SSAT Flex Test on April 5, 2014.  Learn more here: http://matlackeducationalconsulting.com/ssat-flex-test/ or call Hannah Pierpont at 978-261-1402.

How to go to College... Without Going Broke

At this seminar you will learn tips on the financial aid process, which colleges have the most scholarship money to distribute, and how to maximize your free scholarship money. To register please contact Karen Grunow kgrunow@ahpnet.com or 978.261.1417.

Helping your child with the college process

Resolutions Worth KeepingHelping your own child with their college process can be a rewarding, bonding experience - but boundaries have to be drawn. Here's where I have resolved to draw the lines and I embark upon this process with my own daughter.

The gap between sticker prices and net tuition explained

The Real Price of College: Looking Beyond the Sticker Over the last decade the averge tuition and fees after adjusting for inflation) at public four-year colleges rose 72% and increased 35% increase at private four-year colleges. But after subtracting estimated average grant aid and federal tax credits and deductions received by full-time students, the average net tuition and fees students are paying are lower in 2010 dollars than they were a decade ago.

Who's to say who's the best?

30 Ways to Rate a College We've always been a bit suspicious of the usefulness of college rankings, believing that it is up to the individual to decide, based on their own criteria, which schools top their lists of "Best Colleges". This powerful graphic by the Chronical of Higher Ed show that the college rankers themselves (Forbes, U.S. News, etc.) have also "personalized" their college lists by selecting their own criteria on which they rank colleges. Interestingly, there is very little overlap in the data they use to create their lists.

The College Layette

Students, Welcome to College; Parents, Go Home A friend called me a few weeks ago to report that she had just finished buying all the pieces she needed for a layette. "For whom?" I inquired, anxiously, knowing that her youngest child was 12. "For Ben, of course" was the reply. I couldn't help but laugh - Ben is 18 years old and headed off to college this week. In just the way she had prepared for his arrival into this world, his college layette included all the sheets, towels, blankets and toiletries he would need to embark on his new life. The important difference being, of course, that his college layette is a gift of the things he needs to start his life away from her, and independent from her.

This moment of separation seems increasingly difficult for parents who aren't ready to say goodbye, even after they have moved their child into their freshman dorm room. Colleges vary in response to this separation anxiety in various ways but many are becoming increasingly clear about when it is time for the parents to leave and for the college to take over in its roles and responsibilities.

Ben is going to be just fine in college - his parents have spent 18 years teaching him how to be self-sufficient, independent, and self-confident. He will stumble, he will make bad choices, and he will recover. But, most importantly, he will do all these things without his parents looking over his shoulder because he can. And on really bad days, he'll have a nice blanket to wrap himself up in.

Don't worry too much about WHAT you study...

10 Tips About College Major When we get to the question on the Common Application that asks students what their intended course of study is, more often than not they look at me blankly, with no idea how to answer. And that is probably exactly how it should be. With so many fields of study from which to choose, many of which they've had no exposure to, how can a typical 18 year old really know what they want to major in?

More important than the choice of major is how the college student approaches their academic experiences and what skills they gain. If the goal is to get a job upon graduation, most employers are looking for students with strong analytical skills, excellent communication skills, and the ability to self-manage. Students can acquire and develop these skills regardless of their major. And, if they are planning to follow a career that requires specific job-related skills, often those can be learned through internships.

I once heard a parent advise her daughter not to worry about which classes she was taking, but to be sure to sign up for those classes taught by the best professors at her university. She wanted her daughter to be excited about the process of learning, to see what it meant to be passionate about something, and to be taught well. What she learned was secondary to how she learned it.

While students start to feel pressure to declare their majors fairly early in their college careers, consider waiting, explore different classes, learn from the best teachers regardless of what their teaching, and be excited about the process. Possibilities exist that may never have been considered.

Colleges Invite Parents to Summer Orientations

Empty Nest 101 Maybe its the helicopter parent phenomenon, or maybe its that parents are more savvy consumers. Or perhaps it's because the price tag on a college education is soaring and parents want to know what their child is getting for their tuition dollars. But whatever the reason, college orientation programs designed for the parents of incoming freshman are gaining in popularity.

Colleges consider the value of gender-neutral housing

New Policies Accomodate Transgender Students Colleges are working to figure out how to best accomodate their transgendered students. While there seem to be no easy solutions, some colleges are instituting gender-neutral dormitories.

Is the High Cost of Private College Worth the Return on Investment?

A new set of rankings for colleges has just been have released. Payscale has compared the return on investment (ROI) for over 800 colleges and has posted the study on their website Average-cost-for-college-ROI. . With the high cost attending private colleges families are clearly questioning whether it's worth the investment. We are certianly hearing that more and more in our offices and understand as well as appreciate the appropriateness of the question. While useful as one of the factors in the college planning and selection process, this should not overshadow the importance of the best fit for the student. Being happy, successful and prepared to enter the world of work after college are relative to the individual. Just because a college has a great ROI, it doesn't mean it will for that one person. So while this is one indicator of success, it is just that one indicator. Other factors include student culture, professor access, class size, cocurricular opportunities, internships, and location to name a few.

Advice for the college bound athlete

7 Things You Need to Know About Sports Scholarships While being an athlete is certainly an asset to any college application, don't play sports just for the scholarship money, which is likely to be less than you expect. Play for the love of the game.

Practice makes perfect

Many test prep centers are offering free SAT and ACT practice test sessions throughout the summer and there are many reasons why students should take advantage of this opportunity. Like a dress rehearsal, these sessions replicate the real testing environment as students sit in a room with other students and take the test following the standard protocol. Through exposure to real test questions, when the time comes for the official test, students should feel more confident going into their SAT or ACT. Each student will receive a detailed score report and analysis that breaks down performance and identifies strengths and areas for improvement which will help them be more focused in their SAT/ACT prep. Finally, for students contemplating whether to take the SAT or the ACT the practice tests will give thema chance to compare their scores to determine whether they have a natural strength/preference for one or the other.

Practice makes perfect - summer is the perfect time to take advantage of this opportunity.

Finding the right balance

Recalling when summer meant a break from stress Exams are finished, the next SAT isn't until the fall, and there's nothing to do for the next three months except sleep late, read trashy novels, and hang out with friends. Unless you're like many of our clients and have summer days filled with internships, college visits, and resume building volunteer work. Our message to you - keep busy, keep happy, and, above all, keep balanced. Summer is the time to explore new interest and try new experiences, but it's also an important time for rest and renewal.

7 Life Lessons

UC Riverside Commencement Speech Although I tend to find graduations to be rather tedious, drawn-out affairs, I do like to read commencement speeches. Usually erudite, often witty, a great graduation speaker is able to give important advice or perspective to the graduating class. In her commencement speech at UC Riverside, Lynda Resnick gives 7 suggestions for a life well-led.

Why boys are underrepresented in gifted classrooms

Gender Gap for the Gifted in City Schools I'm always disheartened to hear how gender gaps persist in schools, despite on-going research. It turns out that today's classrooms may favor girls because the emphasis is on literacy and testing - things girls tend to excell at, rather than on math and spatial relationships - those things that boys typically do better with.