By Kim Lifton
Wow Writing Workshop
It’s that time of year again. The seniors at your child’s school are either making college choices or waiting anxiously to hear from the schools of their dreams. Meanwhile, the pressure turns to the junior class, and it can be taxing. At Wow, we know how to take some of that stress out of your child’s journey to college.
We have developed some simple, effective tools to help prepare you. We’ll teach you how to give the right type of guidance on the college essay in our free parent programs.
We’ve also reached out to a few national college counseling experts to break down the college prep process for you, and to give some perspective to the challenging essay. Understanding how the essay fits into the whole admissions process is important; it’s equally important to start a conversation about it with your child as you begin the college search.
“As stressful as this is, and as overwhelming as it seems, this process is manageable,” explains Ralph Figueroa, Dean of College Guidance at Albuquerque Academy in New Mexico. “Break it down, step-by-step and year-by-year. You do not need to face the whole huge path at once.”
Figueroa, a former member of the Common Application Board of Advisers, was one of Wow’s guests in a webinar you can access here: Get Ready! Get Set! Get In! Starting Your Journey.
An industry insider, he understands the process from every possible angle; as Associate Dean of Admission at Wesleyan University, Figueroa was the central figure in the New York Times bestseller, The Gatekeepers: Inside the Admissions Process of a Premier College.
Marie Bigham, Director of College Counseling at Isidore Newman School in New Orleans, LA., joined Figueroa on the webinar. A board member for the National Association for College Admission Counseling and the Association of Counselors in Independent Schools, Bigham also worked inside the admissions office as an Associate Director of Admissions at Washington University in St. Louis.
Bigham provided us with a great roadmap for each year of high school for you and your child to discuss to better prepare for college.
- Don’t worry about college. Worry about being the best high school student you can be. The reward of that follows.
- You want to be able to look at your transcript and say, “This represents the best of me.”
- Assess what’s working and what could use improvement
- Ask yourself these questions: “How can I enhance the skills I have? How can I develop the skills I need?”
- Assess yourself. Continue trying to be the best student you can be. Think about what is interesting to you.
- Continue your self-assessment, and ask yourself these questions: “How can I be more flexible? How can I improve?”
- Make an appropriate test calendar; prepare for the SAT and/or ACT and subject and AP exams.
- Visit colleges that are not just name brands; try a few schools on for size and fit. Be focused. Put the pieces together, with an eye toward being the most successful college student you can be.
- Narrow down your college list in the early fall; complete it by early October.
- The list should be realistic based on where you will be admitted and how much you can afford. If your list includes places that you would be happy to attend, where you know you are admissible, you’ll be fine.
- This is the time to hone organizational skills, time management tools, and good decision-making abilities. These are critical skills in college, and life, so start using them now.
- Stay on top of deadlines. You have every option in the world until you start missing deadlines.
- Think of this process as a semester-long class. Work the process into your schedule, and stick to it.
- Plan to be finished by Thanksgiving, if at all possible, so you can enjoy the holidays without college applications looming over your head and family conversations.
- “It is not that hard to get into college,” Bigham said. “When people set limits on what is right or acceptable for them, like when they only apply to the most selective schools, things narrow down fast. Instead, we need to talk about what is important to students.”
Still curious? Ask me anything about the college essay during my next parent chat on Tuesday, April 19. I’ll give the scoop, and suggest ways to help your child without taking over the college essay. Here is a link to sign up for the next parent program, and to learn more about Wow’s coaching services. Wow students get into their top choice schools, year after year. Yours should too.