The Great Unknown
Seniors are on a moving walkway toward the end of high school. Some students are cruising full-steam ahead toward their inevitable destination. For these students it is important not to lose sight of what got them to this point in the first place. Even those students who have already been admitted to college must continue to produce their best academic work, as college acceptances are contingent upon a student maintaining their level of achievement.
For students whose future plans are not as clearly developed, the unyielding countdown to June 9th may be creating a great deal of anxiety. This anxiety can manifest itself in a lot of different ways. Students may become irritable or moody and they may not have the life-experience or vocabulary to explain their fears. Graduation from high school is a clearly demarcated transition point in a young person’s life and brings with it a new beginning. It is healthy to talk with your children about that new beginning and what it represents to them.
If you are concerned about your son or daughter, please encourage them to see their guidance counselor, and as always, it may be appropriate to consult outside counseling resources.
Parent as philosopher
You can help by encouraging your children to keep up their good work and by being as philosophical as possible; we learn from every experience in life, and we grow more confident in our abilities as we deal effectively with adversity. Remember this ugly truth – selective college admissions is a numbers game in which the needs of the college as well as the applicant pool change from year to year.
In the case of disappointing admissions decisions, remind your children that there is no “one perfect school,” and that a person can be happy and successful at any number of schools. Remind them, too, that a denial from a college does not necessarily mean that the student was not wanted by the school of their choice, but simply that there were many more applicants than spaces available. It helps to reassure students that although they may not understand why certain decisions are made, the schools to which they are accepted will present them with excellent opportunities for growth and development.
If students have researched their college list well and made sure that they applied to a range of schools; they should have several offers of admission from which to choose. It is still helpful to be realistic, prepared and philosophical about the process and the results. Your children will benefit from any reassuring influences in their lives during this time! The hard reality is that life is filled with disappointments, and being denied admission to a college may be the first disappointment that some students have experienced. The positive side, however, is that the vast majority of students find that they are quite happy at the colleges they attend and the concept of first choice seems to fade with time!
End of First Semester
Midyear grades will be sent to all schools to which students have applied. While much mythology exists about “Senior Slump,” students should be reminded to maintain high personal and academic standards second semester as college acceptances are contingent upon the successful completion of course work for the entire year. While rare, each year we hear of instances where a college rescinds admission, or more likely begins a student on academic probation, on the basis of a sharp decline in a student’s academic record during second semester.
Application Deadline Reminder
Students who are still interested in applying to schools or colleges, but who have not filed any applications, or those who would like to apply to more colleges, should see their counselor as soon as possible. There are still many colleges with application deadlines of March 1 and later.
Any students with remaining application deadlines who have not already submitted an application and transcript request to his/her counselor must be do so at least two weeks prior to the deadline in order to allow appropriate time to process each application. Any students adding additional applications to their lists must also allow this two-week processing time.
Is Your Child Being Recruited by College Coaches?
If so, please accept a word of caution. Do not be deceived by the claims of some coaches who promise admission. Generally, students must meet the academic standards of a college to be accepted. Possessing a special talent is an advantage in the admissions process (sometimes a very big one!), but if a student would not be eligible under regular circumstances, it is rare that s/he will be accepted to a college based solely on his/her athletic ability.
Teenagers are very impressionable and extremely vulnerable at this stage of their lives. It is easy for them to believe coaches who assure them of acceptance at a college that we would consider to be a reach for them. Remember that if something sounds too good to be true, it may be. Too many students have had their hopes dashed when they find out late in the process that they are not accepted to a college, even after a coach has said that the student was among the top recruits and would definitely be accepted.
Coaches do have some influence in the admissions offices of many colleges, but admissions officers will generally accept the athletes who have the best chance of being successful at the college. Coaches must recruit enough prospective athletes to complete their teams, but they recruit many more than will be accepted. Students and parents should consult with their high school coaches about the students’ ability to play at the various colleges to which they are applying. Your coaches may be helpful in determining the validity of the colleges’ recruitment offers.
Financial Aid: The only way to know is to apply
We encourage all parents who anticipate having difficulty meeting their children’s college expenses to apply for financial aid. Since home equity is not a factor (on the FAFSA) in determining eligibility, many more families will be eligible for aid. It is only through filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the PROFILE (for colleges that require it) that one can be considered for aid. Many colleges also have their own financial aid form which must be completed and submitted directly to their financial aid office. Information on each college’s specific financial aid requirements is included in your child’s application materials and on the college’s web site.
Half of all students enrolled in post secondary education receive some financial aid which usually includes a combination of grants/scholarships, loans, and work-study from federal, state and private programs. Also, remember to check with your employer to see if there are any scholarships available for children of employees. Remember that one must apply for financial aid each year, and that if you will have more than one child in college next year, you may now be eligible for aid even if you were previously ineligible.
Please see the following financial aid resources or you can always call college financial aid offices.
- www.fafsa.ed.gov – File FAFSA on line
- www.cssprofile.org – The College Board CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE
- www.mefa.org – Information on Financial Aid
- www.finaid.org – Financial aid information page
- www.fastweb.com – Free scholarship search
As your child hears from his or her colleges, you should be aware that students have until May 1, the Candidate’s Reply Date, to inform the colleges of their decisions. Using the May 1 reply date allows students time to consider the decisions and financial aid offers from all colleges to which they have been accepted and then make an informed decision about which to attend. Colleges will sometimes urge students to send in their deposit within 30 days of receiving the acceptance letter, often to guarantee space in a dormitory. If this occurs, the deposit should be fully refundable until May 1. Students should call the admissions office to clarify the policy and follow up with a written request.
Some may change their minds…
For some students, attending college immediately after high school may not be the best option, but they feel pressure to do so because most of their peers are going on to college next year. We all need to be open to other possibilities and give our children permission to do what is best for them. Such options require thought, research, discussion and planning. There are many options they will find intriguing and valuable to their growth before going on to college.
Be sure to let your counselor know….
Students should inform their counselors of the action taken at each college as they hear. Although some colleges do inform the Guidance Department, many do not.
Be sure to let your teachers know….
Students should also be sure to let the teachers who wrote letters of recommendation for them know how appreciative they are and keep them informed of the college decisions as well.
Reminder to recycle:
All the counselors would like to thank you in advance for any donations of college reference books or videos you no longer need. We are particularly interested in recent copies of the narrative/subjective reference books such as The Fiske Guide to Colleges, Princeton Review’ 311 Best Colleges, The Insider’s Guide to the Colleges, or others you found useful.