Monday, April 12, 2010

Advice For Parents of HS Juniors

It’s April.  By now, most high school seniors are wearing sweatpants emblazoned with the name of their future alma mater.  Juniors are sweating through their first stabs at the SATs or ACTs.  Their parents of both are sweating over the thought of paying for all those sweatpants, sweatshirts and tuitions.

We’re happily finished with our first run through the college applications gauntlet.  On December 10th, thanks to Early Decision, Zander became a Cornellian, class of 2014.

Here’s a short list of what we learned, and what can help you as you enter this fraught time.

1. You will drive yourselves crazy, no matter how many times people tell you it’s all going 
to work out fine.  We remember going to sleep obsessing and waking up still swirling.  To talk 
me down, we’d call friends who had a kid a year ahead of ours.  They’d tell us:  RELAX!  
It all works out in the end.  Even a "wrong" decision is remediable.  Transfers are fairly common!

2.  Start by looking at schools not too far from home just as practice. With every visit, you 

and your child learn something about what you'd like and what you'd not like in a school.  
You start to trust your response to a place.  Places you are sure you won't like can often 
surprise you.  Places you expect to love, you may not feel anything for. 

3.  Have your guidance counselor come up a with a list of possibilities based on your 

child’s profile.  That less subjective list is one you can cross reference against  your own 

4.  Is there a Naviance program that your school subscribes to?  It is an amazing search 

engine.  You answer a long series of questions and it gives you a list of matching schools.  
Then you can plot your child on their acceptance graph to see how he/she stacks up.  It 
shows how other students from your school did in applying to a certain school, and what 
kind of profile they had.

5.  If the SATs are not a strength for your kid, consider the ACTs with writing.  It's an easier 

test for many, and most of the schools, including the top ones, accept it interchangeably 
now.  One of the benefits is you don't have to take a math SAT2, as it works as an 
achievement test.

6.  One of the things they tell you when you go to the various lectures they give to junior 

and senior parents:  don't base your judgement of a school on what it was like when you 
were in high school.  That's a really long time ago!!

7.  Decisions made as a junior can be turned over once they’re well into their senior year. 

That maturation that happened over the year can yield a whole different set of responses.

8. Every one says it so it must be true, that if your child don't get into a place, he/she didn't 

belong there.  They end up quickly forgetting that they ever did want to go there, and 
embraces the school that chooses him.

9. It's early April.  You have until next November to get applications in, and that's for early 

decision.  Keep moving towards the prize, but don't pressure yourselves to come up with a 
definite list yet.  It really has to evolve. 

10.  Early Decision.  It pressures you in the Fall, but boy is it nice to be done with the 
process by mid December.  You also save money by not sending out a million applications!  
If you don't get in,  you kid can have those other applications ready to go.

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