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College Admission Strategy That Parents Want to Know

by Jocelyn Johnson, on Jul 1, 2015 10:23:00 AM

A week ago, we hosted a webinar on How Parents Can Lead a Positive College Admissions Process. Carol Barash, PhD, Founder and CEO of Story2, author of Write Out Loud, and former English professor and advisor to the admissions committee at Douglass College, Rutgers University, shared advice and resources for parents of children entering the college admission process based on her work with over 15,000 students.

Over 100 parents attended and asked some great questions about college admission strategy and how students can best position themselves in the college admission process. Here’s a look at some of the top questions and their answers from the webinar:

Q: What are pros and cons about Early Decision and Early Action?

Carol Barash (CB): It is definitely a good idea for students to apply for Early Admission to places that are both attractive to the student and to which the student is a strong candidate for admission. It is clear within the admission process that more and more important decisions around admissions and scholarships link back to the EA/ED framework and commitment. So, I suggest that if your child can create a strategic list about potential early applications, to go ahead and do so since it is very beneficial in the process. There is nothing to be lost.

Remember, the deadlines for EA/ED are early in the fall, so students really need to get organized and started over the summer in order to submit finished and revised applications.

Q: How many schools do students typically apply to?

CB: Students should not feel the need to apply to more than 8-10 colleges. Creating a college list is all about developing a balance between schools your child feels comfortable going to, and those of appropriate academic rigor. All colleges on the final list ought to be schools your child feels comfortable attending, and then should vary in terms of the likelihood of acceptance. The likelihood of acceptance by a top student to a top college has not decreased, so it is all about balance.

Q: What’s the best way to determine the right college: size, location, money, etc.?

CB: The best way to approach a college list is by considering the attributes and conditions in which your child thrives. Four years is a long time. If you’re from a big city maybe you want a small town, or vice versa. More importantly, where will your child learn the most, find internships and career opportunities, and develop activities and communities that will hone collaboration skills and allow for personal growth. Specific things to consider are academic programs that might interest your child, as well as academic, career, or emotional support services that your child might come to depend on.

Overall, where will your child feel comfortable and thrive both academically and personally. After that, you should weigh which colleges can offer the best aid package, so that, if possible, your child can graduate debt-free.

Q: How does a B average student stand out in admission/applications?

CB: Through meaningful essays. Essays are not about grades, and there are B-average students that get into great colleges. Most importantly, it is important to accept your child and their grades the way they are and not put any more stress on them for not being an A-student -- it will only make things worse. Rather provide tools for them to find great schools that fit with their academic profile (A+ Colleges for B students among others). This will help reduce the stress on your child in a positive way, and can allow them to emphasize other angles they bring to the admissions table (leadership, athletics, activities, etc.).

Q: For students who took the June 6th SAT, does it make sense to retake in October of their senior year?

A: I think if you can live with the score, then you should avoid retaking the SAT because of the glitch. Preparing for a standardized test is not only stressful, but not the best way to prepare for senior year and the applications that are around the corner. A head start on college essays is a better way to spend the time and, best of all, avoiding the SATs means you will be able to fully enjoy summer!

Want more advice on how to help your child find their purpose, expand their writing fluency, and gain admission and scholarships at colleges that are a strong fit for them? Download a recording of the entire webinar here. Just want the slides? Click here

Topics:college admission