Advice about Applying to College
Archived Q&A and Reviews
Hi - we are embarking on the college application journey with our junior - for anyone who has just been through this, the following would be so helpful: how many colleges did your son/daughter ultimately apply to? How many of these were ''safe'' schools? How many were ''reach''? Where (in general terms) did your child get in? What went right with the whole thing and what went wrong? Would you do anything differently if you were to shepard the whole process through again? Thanks for sharing your insights
Our daughter applied to five liberal arts colleges. Three were reaches, two were schools more likely to accept her, but she only applied to schools she really wanted to attend. She got into the latter two. Looking back, we all feel she should have applied to a couple more, but she's very happy with her final choice. This was a banner year, with many good schools receiving record numbers of applications. Even her ''safety'' schools turned away more kids than usual. She was swept up in the excitement of applying to excellent liberal arts colleges: Oberlin, Macalester, Kenyon, all of whom accepted very few BHS students. Fortunately for us, she saw the wisdom of looking at smaller, less well-known schools as well. She investigated a number of the Colleges that Change Lives (book by Pope), which I highly recommend. As a result, she got into two very good liberal arts colleges and probably would have gotten into several more if she'd focused her attention on those. Mom of a happy senior
This is a very helpful and free service:
We had one ''safety school system'' and one ''reach school''. My student was offered admission at all the schools except the ''reach'' school. Eight schools in total were applied to. When you apply to the University of California you can specify up to 3 campuses. So that was our ''fallback'' and where my student eventually decided to go.
We visited all the schools and our student spent the night at two of the schools in California. I think that was the most important thing we did, because on paper we had one set of priorities but after visiting, meeting the current students, spending time, and looking at the living conditions, we came up with a different set. Almost inverse in fact.
On paper the schools without requirements and open curriculums and generous ''reciprocal'' class agreements with sister colleges seemed almost too good to be true. But after looking at the data: graduation ratios and spending time on campus, we found that it took a very focused student to make the most out of these opportunities and often far too many distractions added stress rather than advantage.
We also looked at student services, academic support, health care, and housing options. We found the University of California system even in the face of cuts was still a great place. It has served our student well.
I hope you have a high school counselor but if not it might make sense to consult a private one - make use of your time by narrowing your search.
Your student's grades, test scores, geographical location, minority status, and family income will cast some of the choices for you. If you have the money likely you will not receive substantial financial aide - merit scholarships are few unless your student has already landed one. We found it limited to $3,000 per year, which did not make much of a dent in $35,000-$50,000 per year private school costs. I have had friends who have shouldered $100,000+ college debt for themselves or their children but it is a very confining burden come graduation. Athletic scholarships are also narrow generally confined to popular male sports like football or basketball at the competitive sports colleges and universities, though there are exceptions. Also remember to include travel costs if your student wants to come home on holidays and will need to come home on breaks. You may also need to visit - things come up. Good Luck
Today we sent in our deposit for the college our daughter has chosen - what a relief! So now that we're at the lighter end of the long dark tunnel, my advice?
1) Start early with visits to a few colleges on spring/summer vacations so that your kid gets a feel for what different campuses are like. Local day trip options: take the train to UC Davis, visit UC Santa Cruz, see Stanford, Mills, SF State and USF. Take the tours that get you into dorms and classrooms. Have your kid take pictures and take notes (we made a little checklist for them to use and take notes so they could remember afterward what they thought of the students, campus, etc.) Pick up a school newspaper to get a feel for daily life.
- Don't let books/guides drive your decisions, but do take a look at several. We liked Princeton Review, SparkNotes, Ruggs, Fiske, & Colleges that Changes Lives, as well as College Prowler, Princeton Review, Unigo and RateMyProfessor websites.
- You'll probably start with a long list. I think my daughter had 30 or so at first. She joined mailing lists, ''liked'' them on Facebook, and set up a special gmail account for emailing colleges. It was fun at first, but got to be a bit overwhelming. By spring of junior year she'd visited some on the west coast, some on the east coast, and had a better sense of what she liked, so narrowed her list to 3 UC's and 9 privates.
- Of the 12 schools:
3 were ''safety'' (acceptance rates over 60%),
3 were ''match'' (SATs/GPAs like hers, acceptance over 30%),
6 were ''reach'' (SATs like hers or maybe slightly higher, acceptance rates under 30%).
And guess what? She got into all six of her safety & match schools, and none of her six reach schools. We're really happy that she chose her safety and match schools carefully...they were all schools that she would have been happy to attend.
And her friends who only went for the big name schools? Despite perfect GPAs and strong test scores, the majority of them got ''no'' for an answer, or were wait-listed. So while our daughter was disappointed not to get into a couple of ''reach'' schools she really liked, it helped her to know that she was not alone in these rejections, and it also really helped to have some enthusiastic acceptances. Some great schools that are not on everyone's radar are offering generous merit scholarships, pay for flights for accepted students to visit, and offer a warm welcome, which is a refreshing and exciting way to go off to college...
Wait, she's going to college? Suddenly it seems all too soon... Relieved Parent of Happy Kid (once Finals are over)
Don't do this yourself. Seriously consider hiring a college counselor to guide your student through this process. I don't have a recommendation because my kids private school has an excellent college counseling program. It's a really different process from when I went to college. The counselor will work with your student through the entire application process, including helping them figure out which schools to apply to and keeping them on track toward due dates. Really, it's well worth the cost. That said my college sophomore applied to about 10 schools, there were several reaches and several safety schools. He got into one of his reaches and is a student there now. We did a tour of SoCal schools before he did applications and then didn't do any more visits until he had acceptances. not a college counselor
One more piece of advice for surviving the college applications...
Consider applying to a college or two that offer Early Action, which is a non-binding form of early notification of acceptance. It can be such a relief to know early on that you have a good option! And often these Early Action places will offer scholarships as enticements. Furthermore, applying Early Action means you have to get your act together for an earlier deadline, so there is motivation to get the personal essay written and other documents in hand sooner, which means less to do for the later apps. (Start working on personal essay summer between junior/senior year or at least very early fall.)
Another piece of advice re college apps, if your student's grades/scores are not strong, some of the schools that offer Rolling Admission have higher acceptance rates and a fairly quick turn-around, another source of relief from anxiety. Doesn't mean they can't try for more selective schools - it's just nice to know about these in case...either to apply early or late: there are tons that offer rolling admissions. =Early Bird=
We just went through the whole stressful process with our first son and learned some good lessons we can apply to our second son next year. 1) Start early and do your homework before you settle on your list of colleges; 2) Meet with a college counselor who can add great but lesser-known schools you might not have thought about; 3) A couple of reach schools is a good idea but more than that results in rejections that create unnecessary disappointment and loss of confidence; 4) Include several safety schools--your final list should be 10 or 12 colleges; 5) Go visit as many of the schools your kid is most interested in as you can afford--we were surprised when several of our sons prime candidates came off his list after he visited; 6) Do NOT leave the essays for the last minute.
A lot of what we learned for Son 1 can be applied to Son 2, so we're planning on only one session with a private college advisor to validate our list and approach, but we will use Lesley Quinn again to help with his essays. She's very good.
Lastly, if you want to enjoy Thanksgiving and winter break, start everything early! Good luck. -Carol B
I am a little dismayed that persons calling themselves ''private college advisors'' post on this list, recommending that parents make use of a private college advisor and then recommending themselves. Is this advice or advertising?
I talked to a few of these ''private college advisors'' on the phone this fall, thinking of engaging one of them, and heard nothing but a very rapid stereotyping of my child based on the most basic information, and including a few names of schools based on these stereotypes. We are proceeding without the benefit of this ''private'' and very expensive advice. The hype around college admissions is tremendous, and my sense is you are only making it worse for your kids by supporting the idea that this is a profession anyone actually needs. a Berkeley Mom
To the parent who said no one needs a college counselor, well I don't really know in what state of denial he or she is.
Even in the best of times, pre-proposition 13 etc, when I went to school, a little more help in selecting the non- brand name colleges would have been really useful.
+ First, today with (public school) counselors having to help 150 to 400 kids per year, personalized help is out of the question.
+ Second, frankly with more kids applying to more schools, even with kids with great scores can have trouble getting into the select schools. (I know, I'm an alumni interview for a highly selective university. And one kid I thought was a slam dunk, captain varsity sports team, 730's SAT's, COSMOS, good essay was waitlisted. I was shocked.)
+ Third, and for us most importantly, we use a college counselor, Barbara Austin, (852-0447) to get our junior to do his essay over the summer without parental nagging.
+ Fourth, I would say that this is not do or die. Thankfully, there are often many, many second chances, but you really have limited experience with the whole college admissions process. You do it once, twice, three times, at most. Why is it you don't want help. I know my kid needs the help. To think that you can get it right by yourself or even worse, let you child (yes despite the hormones, and height, etc. they really still often are children) decide well good luck with that! nr
Greetings - here's a question about timing: my husband and I are celebrating our twentieth anniversary in the fall and have never been away from the kids on a vacation of our own, so months ago we turned in our miles for a week in Europe. We planned this trip for November and now that I'm entering the college application process with my junior daughter, I'm realizing that leaving for a week in the middle of the November of her senior year may not be such a good idea. Since we used miles, we could make a change in the calendar year. I don't want to give up our long-awaited vacation, but I also don't want to abandon my daughter at a crucial time in the application process. We'd be gone over Thanksgiving week but there are all sorts of deadlines around that time. My husband is graciously being flexible, but I'd like to do the right thing for both my marriage and my college-bound daughter. If you've been through this with your kid, how busy is this period? Is it terrible timing or should we forge ahead and treat this as an enabling time for her to do things on her own for a week? Really on the fence about rescheduling. Bad vacation planning on my part
She is the one going to college, not you. You deserve the time alone wiht your husband. I had nothing to do with my two daughters' applications and they had no problem getting them done and in on time. Make sure she has a way to pay for the apps though. She is old enough to make sure they get down and besides, she is the one writing the essays and filling out the forms. These days you can keep in touch via Skype or just phone so you won't actually be that far away. Already done that
Senior year and college applications is fraught with stress for both parents and child. So why not finish off the process *early* and then go on your November vacation? It can be done through the process of ''early decision'' and ''early action'' applications.
By early, we really mean ''early'', with most college deadlines for these applications (including transcripts, recommendations and completed applications with essays) mid-October to early November - well before your Thanksgiving European vacation. For example, Boston College, Harvard and Stanford's early action filing deadline is November 1st. UC does not offer early action or early decision, but the application process opens November 1st, so you just file the application the first week and miss the last-minute rush.
''Early action'' means it's a non-binding decision so the student can apply to other colleges as well (N.B. some colleges have ''single choice early action'' which precludes early application but not regular applications to other colleges). ''Early decision'' is binding. The student should only do an ''early decision'' application if he/she really wants to go to that school. Most schools inform the student of their decision before the end of the year, while regular applicants have to wait until March or April of the following year. If the student isn't accepted early, the application is returned to the applicant pool with the regular deadline students, so it can be reconsidered.
So if your student knows where he/she wants to go, go ''early''. You'll beat the rush, get a decision much faster than everyone else, and be relaxing over the Thanksgiving holiday while other students are frantically trying to upload their first essays and overloading the server (happens every November 30th on the UC applications system). Good Luck
Keep your travel plans intact. If you must work with your student on college applications, why not complete them together before you leave? If your student is completing them on his/her own, it's not your problem. In any case, not all college deadlines are Nov 30th.
I hope you've made arrangements for an adult to stay at the house with your teen while you're gone. Not because your teen can't get to school without help, but to take away the temptation to have a big party. Go ahead and travel!
My daughter just heard from her first choice college, Brandeis. She has been wait listed. The letter she received indicates there is no ranking of the wait list & doesn't say how the wait list works. Looking for current information about college waiting lists in general & Brandeis in particular. Thanks. first time college mama
The head of admissions from Stanford spoke at our high school this year. He said wait lists are three times as big as the incoming freshman class and the odds of moving off the wait list are slim. You should realistically look at your other acceptances and wait hopefully. Good luck to your daughter. anon
You should check out a web site called college confidential www.collegeconfidential.com It has discussion boards for the admission process in general and for many schools individually. For example the discussion board for Brandeis is http://talk.collegeconfidential.com/brandeis-university/ /
The content for each school is completely dependent on what people post there. I'm not sure if the current threads address the Brandeis wait list, but you could start one. You should also look at the threads for other comparable schools to get a sense of general trends regarding wait lists, as well as what people suggest to improve the chances of getting in from a wait list. It's been about 6 years since we were in your situation, but from reading numerous threads at College Confidential, I was able to figure out very early that it was going to be a tough year to get off the wait list at many schools, including the ones where my son was wait-listed. It helped a lot to know that.
College counselors tend to dislike College Confidential, because there is no accuracy check on what people write and no assurance of a balanced perspective. However if you keep these factors in mind it can be a very useful source of information and scuttlebutt. For instance, the school my son attended required a dorm selection. He was out of the country and unable to visit the school to make an informed choice. I found that the info on the College Confidential thread on the topic was very consistent with what I learned myself on a campus tour and by speaking directly to current and former students. Had we been forced to make a decision without visiting the school the College Confidential online advice would have served us in good stead.
Dear Community: We are the parents of a seventeen-year-old high school junior who is just beginning to navigate the colleges selection/admissions process. I would love to benefit from the experience of (as well as congratulate) those parents who have recently been through this undertaking. Specifically, I'd love to know: what was your role in this whole thing? How much advice/counsel/guidance did you offer? How much did your son/daughter manage the process on his/her own? What do you wish you'd known at the outset?
I can already tell my daughter is daunted by the whole concept of college applications and test-taking. She goes to a great local private school which I'm hoping will play an active role in this whole endeavor.
Did you use the services of a college counselor? Was the helpful? Was it worth the expense? Is this useful given that she's already in private school?
Any sage advice from the veterans in our community would be much appreciated. Hoping to strike the right balance
We hired a college advisor despite the fact that our child was at an excellent private school. The college advisor was very helpful in giving us advice about possible schools and navigating the process. I suggest asking senior parents at your school about how much one-on-one time the advisors give to students and how happy the parents are with the services they get. That will help you decide whether to hire someone. Watch out, though, if you decide to hire someone, you will find that spring of the junior year is late to be looking for someone.
Our child's role was to continue to do well in school, extra-curriculars and work. He had to study for and take several standardized tests and be personable and intelligent in interviews. He wrote the essays and completed the applications - which were reviewed by the college advisor and his parents. His parents developed spreadsheets to track all of the deadlines and created a filing system to organize all of the information. We also traveled with him to look at colleges and gave our opinions. My experience is that it is a rare student who can truly do it all on his/her own. Some students are forced to by circumstance, which doesn't sound like your case. While my son was in high school, there were parents who claimed their child was doing it all on his/her own, but a year later, stories revealed that not to be the case. So much is expected of these kids. They deserve the support we can give them, I think.
I think that one thing that helped to reduce stress was to encourage our son to not focus on the one favorite school and to leave decisionmaking about favorites until after he had acceptances. Hope that helps. Good luck! College Parent
I think there's no one-size-fits-all when it comes to how to approach college admissions. It really depends on how much your teen wants/allows you to be part of the process. If she sees how much is involved,she will probably welcome at least some help and guidance. My daughter attends Berkeley High where the college advisors are very organized. (They have to be when there are only two counselors for over 800 seniors and I'm guessing that many juniors too.) Take advantage of any college info evenings the school sponsors and make sure your daughter knows where the college/career center is at her school. Encourage her to look at lots of colleges and universities online to get general impressions, so she can begin thinking about the type of school that would be the best fit.
We took spring break of my daughter's Junior year to make appointments at five different schools on the East Coast, and it was a great way to narrow down the long list of possibilities. She had thought she really wanted to go to Columbia, but after visiting, she was glad she had gone to the campus because she decided she didn't want a huge urban school after all. She didn't know much about Wheaton in Massachussets before our visit, but absolutely loved it when we toured there, and decided that she was more drawn to smaller liberal arts colleges.
The next step was getting her to articulate her goals, interests, and criteria in a college. Once she'd done that, we made an appointment with Wendy Morrison, a local college counselor/private consultant who really knows her stuff. Our family met with her for an hour and a half, and she had great suggestions for schools for my daughter to apply to and had a lot of substantive information about the schools my daughter was considering. Great investment.
Then there's a mountain of deadlines and supplementary essays to keep track of. Be sure to check on word counts. Twice my daughter misread the allowed length of the essay as the number of words instead of characters, so doublecheck the little stuff. Good luck! TG
It is a defining time- the era of college apps. I pushed and prodded. She resisted and detested. We came head to head and agreed I would remove myself from the equation and she would instead seek assistance from counselors and older kid's parents who had done it already. In the end she came up to the plate and did it herself (not without some breakdowns along the way), but she would not have gotten there had I not set up test dates coached and emailed about opportunities, deadlines etc.
We just received her first acceptance with a healthy scholarship to a small private east coast school! I am so proud of her. She is so proud of herself. She is now charging along applying for scholarships she was nominated for or I found and suggested.
College faires helped and a couple days of us just making ''yeah'' and ''nay'' piles in the living room from the zillions of packages received as well as assistance from a friends' mother who spent hours matching her interests and academics to schools with financial aid.
It is a delicate and self adjusting balance. you need to support and direct and then step back and watch or close your eyes and hold your breath. In the end it is a great threshold-teachable moment for all. Enjoy the ride. Good luck! V.
Many of us know how stressful the college application process can be - we're just finishing up the process at my house. My family is working with InsideTrack, a great company that partners your teen with a coach to guide them through the college search and admissions process. It seems like the biggest issue during junior year is to start figuring out the college list and mapping out a plan for the dreaded standardized tests. I strongly recommend that you check out www.insidetrackcollegeadmissions.com. My son is working with Maria, who is fantastic. I find that having a coach work with my student helps ease my stress level as I know that deadlines are being met without having to constantly nag! Best of luck to you - this really is an exciting time and getting some help in the process actually makes it fun! Your student will mature right in front of you. A Little Less Stressed Mom
IMPORTANT for parents granting their teens independence in the college process:
We had a very unfortunate event due to accommodating our son's request to ''handle it on his own'' (college app process). He recently turned 18 and has been craving more responsibility. He applied to state colleges through CSU Mentor and got some confirmations by mail and some via email. We asked his next steps and he said he would hear sometime between Feb and April of decisions and he'dd keep us in the loop.
He got some letters in Jan and followed up on others via automated phone systems but he hadn't heard from his preferred. Together we checked the original app confirmation email which explicitly advises to check CSU Mentor often as it is the ''primary source of information and communication regarding your application''. In his account, the last note (posted on Jan 7) said his application had been dropped because he had not submitted his ACT/SAT scores when requested and there's no appeal since the campus is impacted and many other applicants had submitted their info in a timely manner! What happened?!?!
When looking over the CSU Mentor account there had been 2 notices in December asking for his test scores and 7 or 8 prior messages with generic ''keep your grades up'' notices reminding him ''not to get senioritis'' and that his final GPA would be important.
My son's explanation:
After submitting his apps he'd checked CSU Mentor once a week. On seeing the generic emails, he assumed that nothing important would be there till admissions/rejection notices and he stopped looking.
It wasn't until his first responses came in that he checked again and by that time it was too late! Now he'll never know if he would have been accepted to his favorite school and has to wait a year if he wants to reapply!
In hindsight, I realize as a first-time-college-app-parent, I didn't know what to look for or what challenges there might be. I assumed his counselor would follow up and test scores would automatically be sent.
My advice: support your kid's request for independence, but don't let go completely. Set up a regular schedule for monitoring the process and keep in touch with other adults assisting your child (counselors, advisors, tutors, etc.) and ask for updates. And remember to check for post-app requirements within the first month after the deadline.
This was a tough life-lesson for all of us and maybe this will spare someone our pain! anon
My daughter and many of her friends will be finishing up college applications over the next few weeks, and we'd like to take them out to celebrate. I've been hearing about restaurants that are now making a nice range of alcohol free mixed drinks. Can anyone recommend a place, preferably in the east bay, that makes good ones? We'd love for them (and the adults with us who don't drink) to be able to celebrate with something more festive than soda or fruit juice. Thanks! Light at the End of the Tunnel
How about Yoshi's at Jack London Square? I honestly don't know about their drinks, though they have a full bar and I am sure could mix any cocktail without the alcohol-- but taking your daughter and one or two friends to hear good music is a great and grown-up kind of celebration. Music Lover
my daughter and her friends had started a little celebration process that they extended to finishing college applications.
At the end of every semester the kids gathered in our back yard around the fire pit (nothing glamorous - one we got from Target a few years back - you can even do it in a barbq) and they clean out their back packs and burn all the paper, etc. they no longer needed.
When they all finished their college applications they did a slightly bigger celebration - they brought over all the papers, drafts, practice tests, all the mail they no longer needed from the schools, one kid even burned her SAT prep book - they took pictures, made s'mores, we made virgin margaritas, and they were out there talking around the fire for hours! A picture of the burning of the SAT book became my daughter's home page on her computer for a long time - it was personally symbolic for them, they created it, it was easy and certainly inexpensive as some of the kids have little money for a more fancy celebration and was of their own making. It was a really lovely nite for us to see them talking outside for hours. Its now become a continued gathering as they are all now in college. They will all be back over winter break to sit around the fire. another mom
My hs senior brought home a form from Albany High, the parents ''brag sheet''. This is to help the counselors write letters of rec. for the kids.
I'm supposed to list what I consider my son's most outstanding accomplishements in the past 3 or 4 years and why am I choosing these as most important? Academic accomplishements and interests and examples. Non academic....
I have to admit I have no idea how to start this? My son has accomplished maturity, independance, compassion, ''menschlekeit''....these are the outstanding accomplishements in my opinion.
He had a Bar Mitzvah, he fenced in a tournament, he went to Israel....is this what they want to know about? Help from anyone who's done this....I need examples. Thanks, college mom
It sounds like you've got some great examples for your brag sheet. The brag sheet doesn't matter unless your student is applying to private colleges or for scholarships where the counselor's input is requested. Don't stress!
Congratulations! You just wrote your son's brag sheet! All the accomplishments and activities you listed for your son are what you can include. Just flesh them out a little more, where, when, how. (I have no idea what ''menschlekeit'' means, so if you choose to use that word, I would translate it.) They say it's a little like writing a job reference, but I think it should be more personal as you are his mother, afterall. I think if you can tie in his choices of classes to some of his interests and then what he has done with them (if anything) outside of school, that would good. They want anecdotes, so try to remember what happened over the past year or so (I found this part hard...).
''My son has accomplished maturity, independance, compassion, ''menschlekeit''....these are the outstanding accomplishements in my opinion. He had a Bar Mitzvah, he fenced in a tournament, he went to Israel....is this what they want to know about? mother of a senior too
I'm going crazy with my first-born and the college application process. I am on the faculty at UCB but am getting different info from the admissions office and the college of Natural Resources (believe me there is no advantage to getting inside info just because you are on the faculty! I'm in the dark just like everyone else!) My daughter is interested in Near Eastern Studies in the college of Letters and Science , but I'm told that her application will be treated as ''undeclared'' I'm assuming this will make it harder to get in. She's also interested in Forestry thru Natural Resources. My question- Would it be best to apply to Letters and Sciences with Near Eastern Studies or Natural Resources in Forestry. The bottom line- which choice would better her chances of getting in ( assuming all else being equal, essay etc..) Thanks so much! It wasn't this hard when I went to UCB
No easy answers here. First, evaluate how your daughter looks on paper--has she been taking a Near Eastern language? Is she good in science? What SAT Subject test scores are strongest? These might tie in to how strong she looks as a candidate. You could call each department and ask: If my daughter entered in Letters and Sciences and wanted to transfer into Forestry, how difficult would it be? Ask the Near Eastern Studies department the same question and also ask why you can't declare it as a major and what is necessary to declare it as a major. The answers to these questions will help. But in the end, there are no guarantees, so she should choose the direction she likes the best. Another option is to apply to several different universities, half applying as a Forestry major (if they have that major) and half applying as a Near Eastern Studies major. Then come April, she can see where she gets in and decide which direction she's most likely to pursue. Anonymous
I am a UCB faculty member with 2 children at UCB and a lot of experience with admissions-related administration. In L, there is no such thing as really having a major when you come in as a freshman. All freshman are treated the same and your major does not affect admission. The ''major'' options are used for some sort of statistical purposes but you are not in a major when you get here. If your child has a sincere interest in the environment (even the Near Eastern one) I recommend CNR. There is a major in Society and Environment where she could focus on the Near East, and an interdisciplinary major you write yourself that could include the Near East. Forestry is also a good major, and there are a lot of options besides forestry in the natural resources. In CNR, your choice of major will also not affect your ability to get in. Admissions are done for everyone the same way by the same people. It is a big disservice to your child to have them apply to CNR if they are not interested in environment (bad for their self-respect too, shows a big lack of faith). Environmental stuff is also growing in popularity, so CNR is as competitive as anything else. The advantage is that it is a smaller college home, though the lower division giganto courses are the same for everyone.
Believe it or not, the other UCs also have some great programs too. berkeley mom
Now that the time has come, sure enough I'm in a big panic! I went to a meeting last year at my daughters school and came away with the knowledge that the whole college applicaiton process is very stressful. Of course I've been worrying for a year, but haven't really done too much about it. I'd like to know if there is help out there, what do other parents do? I'm a single mom and was not educated in this country, so I feel like I'm at a disadvantage. Are there inexpensive (or free) ways to find out exactly what you're supposed to do?
As concerns how to pay for college, you need look no further than Frances Fee (ffee [at] comcast.net). Frances has mastered the financial aid application progress and is able to give you a realistic picture of how tuition will impact your student's/your budget. I can't recommend her highly enough. And, she is there to help you during the entire undergraduate years. Her fees are very fair and she is very generous with her time. You will not be sorry if you contact her. Tuition Anxiety-Free Mom
Thought this was a great article about out of sight high priced college loans and the costs of education: http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/070930/student_loans_the_spiral.html?.v=3 ''High-Priced Student Loans Spell Trouble'' Sunday September 30, 2:14 pm ET By Marcy Gordon, AP Business Writer
We did a very detailed analysis of costs and benefits of private colleges vs University of California, I think a lot of other people are too, considering the numbers entering UC this fall. College Teen Parent
My daughter is applying colleges now, so I can not give any advices. I am just giving information which might help other parents or become indicators.
My daughter wants to major Engineering and applying UC schools, CalPoly, and some Ivy schools. Although I didn\x92t major Engineering, I took several Math and Engineering courses at Cal, so I do not recommend my daughter to go to Cal. When I was a student there, major classes were too crowded. Beginning of each semester, there were hundreds of students sitting down on the floor for first couple months until half of the classmates dropped. These classrooms were made for three hundreds students or so. I also had to wait for a long line, when I wanted ask professors questions and sometimes late for next class. It might be similar for any other classes which are requirement. Classes must be more packed now and next few years.
About private counselors and tutors:
Although my daughter told me several students at her school use private counselors or tutors, not many people can afford them. I can\x92t. But I don\x92t think my daughter is behind or doing less than those students. We use any help from our family and friends. I tutored her mathematics through Calculus, and her uncle who is a lawyer helped her history classes. Her father\x92s friend who is a magazine editor checked her English essays (but he didn\x92t change a lot). My daughter decided her father (high school English teacher) is not good enough, and her other uncle (high school history teacher) is not willing to help her.
My daughter observed and analyzed (she likes to analyze everything) students/friends who graduated last 2 years, and she is using them as indicators. Some of the indicators are; Science/Engineering students who finished Calculus AB & BC (and or other AP classes) during their junior years tend to go to Cal, while many students who took it during senior years went to CalPoly or State Universities. Among them, who took score 5 on AP Calculus exams were accepted by schools where they wanted to go, such as Stanford and Harvard. Also many of them went to Cal Engineering/Science. I don\x92t know how schools consider AP classes and scores, but students can demonstrate how they are challenging. If you take AP exams by junior years, you can put scores on the application. It might be similar for other majors, although I don\x92t know which AP classes are important for them. These indicators helped her decide where she apply, and not to apply.
Public schools or private schools:
Since I can not afford for a private school, we made a deal. My daughter can go to a private school only if she gets full scholarships. If she gets it, I will not complain how far the school is. It will be difficult for me, but I have to have respect for her choice and effort. There were several students from her school who went to Ivy schools with full scholarships last years. Their financial backgrounds vary. At least one of the students has professional parents. However, their performances are alike. They took many AP classes, there were in varsity sports, leaderships or community services. But not all of them were perfect.
I will see what will happen to my daughter, who tries hard but not perfect. If she gets in where she wants, I will help friends\x92 kids as a free tutor. Teen's mom
My son is a Senior this year in Albany. He is an African American student seeking to attend a historical Black college. His SAT scores are sort of low but has a strong cummlitive GPA. This is my first child to go to college and I need to make sure we are on the right path with our applications. S
Start here: www.collegeboard.com/
and here www.act.org/
If you child plans to go to a four year college. The Collegeboard site is very helpful, and it is where you register for the SAT test. The Act.org site is for The ACT. Your child needs to take one of these if not both, usually the SAT for most colleges. I would also get out the tea pot, or ice water jug and start sitting down with your senior every week, either after school or after weekend breakfast and have some talks about what they want to do or don't want to do. Four year college is not for everyone, but most work these days is requiring a Bachelors degree. This degree can be helpful even if someone pursues a career in Art or as a Chef, since this will be good preparation for project or business management. If your child wants a training program, you need to look into that, and there may be financial aid depending on the program.
Get your financial records in order and file for Financial aid as soon as they will take it, don't wait for the deadline. Financial packages are often awarded first come first served. As a single mother without a lot of money your child may qualify for a maximum financial award, though this may also involve a rather large loan. Read the paypack terms, since it is best to have no interest while in school or deferred low interest, there is interest while in school, but you pay later and payment after leaving school.
The worst loans are high interest, with fees of all kinds, and require payments immediately, do not take out these loans!
If you do not understand the loan terms, make an appointment with your banker - if you have a checking or a savings account, your bank may help you understand these options, or again speak with the college counselor.
Beware programs for quick easy college loans on the internet. The best ones are usually administered thru the college and are Federally guaranteed. Check and see if the college you are most interested has one bank or a choice of banks. There have been a few situations lately where private colleges were sending all of the loan business to only one bank with terms that were not competitive with other banks. Borrower needs to understand the terms.
California has an amazing system of public colleges: University of California Campuses, California State University campuses, and many, many exceptional community colleges and programs. The University of Texas, the University of Oregon and the University of Vermont and the SUNY system of New York are very worth while to look at for lower costs and excellent opportunities among others. Some of the other state university systems are a little easier to get into than the University of California.
Make an appointment with you child's college counselor as soon as possible. Ask for help from the principal, and her favorite teachers as well. Ask the librarian to help you with resources. There are many books at the library, and you can read through many of the current editions at Barnes and Noble, since they allow browsing.
Make a wall chart and get bizzy. If you cannot afford the application fees or college exam entrance fees you can get waivers, however it is getting pretty late. Your child needs to be scheduled or have taken the exams already. Did it last year, you can too
My oldest daughter, now 16 and in 11grade, is a hardworking, strong (though not stellar) student. GPA hovering at 3.8. She is not as strong in math and sciences; still searching for her calling in life. She's definitely college bound, however, not one to stray too far from California. We didn't have enough to put away big bucks for the private school of her choice. We're middle class and unlikely to qualify for scholarships or grants. We'd like to hear from parents who have been there and any advice to high school students preparing for college and anything you would have done differently with your own kids to prepare them for the future. Thank you for sharing your insights! Signed, Newbie Parents
Do not let cost be the determining factor in choosing a college that will fit your child. My child was similar to yours as far as academics and standings. We, too, are what one would call middle class. We looked at who our child is, her interests, geographic desires (not straying too far from home) and found a few schools that fit her criteria. We did not look at cost. To our surprise we were awarded interest free loans and a small grant which made the tuition possible. Fortunately, she loves her school in the pacifc northwest and we're able to make it work. Visit schools and go with an open mind as to how you will pay for it. Sometimes situations have a way of working themselves out. parent who has been there
Yes, I have a couple thoughts for you and your daughter.
First, visit a few local campuses during your 11th grade that represent the different kinds of schools, e.g., small private (U. of Pacific, Mills, St. Mary's,...), big public (Cal, SF State, Chico), urban (Cal, SF State, SJ State), midsize to small town (Davis, Chico, Humboldt). Town and school on same page (Humboldt, Davis). Town and school on separate pages (Mills, Evergreen St.). Residential v. commuter (e.g., most of the above v. Sac. State or SJ State). Do a couple, and she will pretty quickly have a read on size and location, private v. public. Preppy v. broad spectrum.
Really, just a couple visits will do.
Second, make sure she sits in on classes by herself to get a read on the school. Have a meal in the cafeteria. Possibly spend a night in the dorm. The more personal contact, the better. She can look through a couple department offerings and email the teachers to see if it is ok to sit in. Most cases will welcome you.
Third, go when your high school is out of session and the college is in session. E.g., Columbus Day, Veteran's Day, Thanksgiving week, President's Day Weekend, etc.
Do not put too much weight in the organized visits arranged by the colleges. They give you tours of buildings, led by a couple of peppy kids. You miss the real nitty gritty of seeing the teachers and kids in action. Your daughter will get ton's out of this, which cannot be conveyed at the college's organized events.
Also, if you can help it, avoid driving through a campus on a weekend ''just to see the place'' is a very distorted view - one that is just a bunch of buildings.
Note also that if you take one college walking tour, you have probably taken all of them. You can start one, but in 5 minutes you will see the same picture from the previous one.
Fourth, if you can afford the $500 to 800, get the services of a college applications consultant. That can help a lot, mainly by taking you out of the picture. That financial investment is small compared to a year's wasted tuition at the wrong school.
Fifth, get validation that your daughter is ready for college and wants to go. Very important. Consider options. If you can afford $600, I recommend the Johnson O'Connor Research Institute in San Francisco. They do a two day evaluation of interests and capabilities using written and manual tests and interviews. The stuff they get will blow your mind, stuff you'll never get from an academic setting. This experience really opened up the options and vision for our daughter.
Sixth, consider alternative college formats, e.g., at Evergreen State (in Olympia, Washington) and Colorado College (in Colorado Springs, CO). Evergreen may be 50 to 100 years ahead of all the rest of the colleges in the country.
There are probably other idea's you will get from others on the board. I wish you the very best of luck. Nathan
post script correction. The purpose of the recommendations I gave in the previous reply was to find out the kind of college and perhaps the kind of location that will work for her. Doing this during the 11th grade can open up new ideas and eliminate some non-starters for her. In the 12th grade, she can then find the many options that fulfill her needs. No specific recommendation for any of those colleges is intended. Again, good luck. Nathan
I found myself in a similar situation and learned that there are lots of private colleges out there ready to offer generous scholarships/grants to students such as your daughter. My daughter is attending a small liberal arts college in California, and my tuition contribution is less than what I would have had to pay for a UC because I was not eligible for UC finanacial aid. Also, it was my experience that private institutions were not as locked into the numbers game (GPA, SAT) but were more apt to consider factors such as extra-curricular activities and who my child is as an individual. I encourage you to look into private college financial aid opportunities. And, by all means secure interviews -- on campus if possible. Good luck. Grateful college parent
Oh my, not stellar? Your daughter is doing GREAT in school! There are tons of parents who wish they had your ''dilemma''. Keep encouraging her to keep up her grades. 3.8 is high enough to apply for the multitude of scholarships available. I started with Fastweb: http://www.fastweb.com. Apply early and keep track of your applications. If she goes to a community college for the first two years, it will give you a chance to save some money. Diablo Valley and Santa Rosa are the most 4yr college focused in the area, and they have a program that will guarantee her admission to a UC after 2 years. I worked for someone who went to Diablo Valley, then was accepted and attended Wellesley!
My youngest is in 10th grade now, and her dream school is $30000 a year. We have saved some money, but nothing like that. We have already told our kids that we expect them to pick up some of the tab by taking out student loans and working part time. Good luck. The next couple of years are full of transitions and changes. Our kids think they're grown up, but sometimes they just need to come home and be tucked in and have a bedtime talk. jenny
With a 3.8gpa, your daughter will more than likely have a number of UC and CSU schools to choose from.
My son is a senior at Berkeley High Independent Study. He has a dx of ADD, though is not on meds for it. He is attempting to complete some online high school courses to make up for some earlier bad grades. He says he wants to go to college but won't see the college counselor,won't finish his online courses, won't even pick a college to send ACT scores to, etc. Time management is an issue with his ADD. I want to help him get to college but feel that I'm having to push too much. If I don't push I don't think he'll get to a 4yr college next year, but if I do push will he even be ready for a 4yr college? Hope someone has some experience with this. Thanks.
Your son is doing (or not doing)the same thing my daughter did last year. Some people call it ''senioritis''. I called it laziness. She was just completely unmotivated to do her schoolwork. Despite passing the exit exam in 10th grade and high test scores, she did not pass 2 of her classes and did not get to ''walk the stage'' at graduation. She spent the summer in school. She was not alone. Out of the 70 kids in her graduating class 16 did not graduate or participate in the ceremony. But now she's at DVC, working and saving to move out. We knew last year that she wanted to go to DVC for the first 2 years, take the UC program, and then go to UC Santa Cruz.
I know theres a certain prestige when your child gets into Berkeley or NYU, but you have to remember when they turn 18, they are adults and have to make their own decisions. We can decide if we will support them financially, but they have to have their own goals.
I know several adults with ADD or ADHD, and they tend to be the ''go-getters''. Some, like my brother, went off medication in his mid-teens, and it took a few years after high school for him to get started, but he's doing quite well now. Good luck to you and your son Jenny
My first thought on reading your post was ''but, why isn't he on meds?'' Our experience has been that they can be catalytic in success at school. My college freshman would not be in college without them.
That said, you're right that you can only help as much as you expect to be able to help once he's in college -- unless he will be attending a school that will offer the help he needs. If that's an option (Landmark College actually specializes in ADD and LD kids, many schools offer support services) than do what it takes to keep him on track, knowing that increased maturity will also help him next year.
ADD Mom to ADD kids
Can anyone tell me what the standard procedures are for a high-schooler headed for college? Evidently all my sons friends took the PSAT this month, but my son did not. I wasn't aware that sophomores - which he is - took PSAT's. He's a great student and I see college as a definite. His high school is just so middle of the road - College Park High in Pleasant Hill. It isn't one of the top schools in the area, nor is it one of the worst, where a college might actively do some outreach.
I went to college in Florida where kids were guaranteed placement in college and my husband is foreign so neither of us had to deal with tests, competition, or applying to various colleges. So, during the high school years, just what should a kid be doing to get into college? (Evidently taking the PSAT is one of them.) I remember taking the ACT test to get into college, yet I never hear about it around here. When should a student take a PSAT, the SAT, ACT? How soon do you start applying to college? How, when and where does one go to apply for scholarships, grants, financial aid? Some kind of time line and what steps should be taken would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
Wow! There's tons of information about college planning on http://www.collegeboard.com ! Thanks, Frances C.! --Ann
It seems that you would be wise to seek the help of a college counsellor, who can guide you through the whole process. I highly recommend Wendy Morrison. She is very knowledgable, totally committed to finding the best fit for your child and works very well with teenagers as well as their parents. Her phone number is 510/384-5962. Corinne
To the parent who wants to know what to do to get ready for college -- If her child's school doesn't have an email list, I recommend she get on the Berkeley High School email list, even though her child doesn't go there. The bulletins re college admissions are great. Send an email to bhs-request AT idiom.com with ONLY the word SUBSCRIBE in the subject and nothing in the message. Anonymous