February 2012-E-NEWSLETTER

posted Feb 4, 2012, 8:59 PM by Glenda Durano   [ updated Feb 4, 2012, 9:01 PM ]

CRUNCH TIME

About this time of year, students start to sweat.  Parents begin to panic.  Can we really afford college? Did he apply to enough schools?  Did he apply to the right schools? Is everything going to be okay?  Stop…and find your balance.

If you are a senior, remember, you can ultimately only attend one university.  Applying to 15 schools is crazy—generally, it’s a result of poor planning, superficial investigation, and a lack of confidence.  As long as a student has done his research and found several colleges that will satisfy his needs and facilitate his passions…and where he is in the top 25% of the applicant pool, there’s no need to worry.  On the other hand, if a student has been unrealistic about his expectations or carelessly rushed through his college planning process, and if he is still submitting applications at this late date, he needs to stop for a moment and evaluate exactly why he took so long to apply to college.  Is he afraid?  Is he poorly organized?  Too busy?  Does he lack purpose?  Or does he simply not know the mechanics of the college application process? These are all “valid” reasons to still be working on applications at this point, but it is important the student takes a close look at exactly “why” he delayed the college application process.  Does he really want to go to college, or is he enrolling simply out of obligation?

Every year, more than a third of incoming freshmen drop out of school because they are ill-prepared.  Many students leave college because it’s “not what they thought it would be—like high school all over again.” Others are unable to prioritize or manage time, so they fail academically.  If a student has found a good match, however, these things won’t happen.  Students desperately need to feel parental support during the college planning and college application process.  I’m not just talking in terms of finances, here either. Think about how you are feeling emotionally as a parent and multiply that times 10.  That’s how a graduating senior feels—regardless of how he behaves. If your senior is still struggling with where to apply to school, he needs objective guidance.  Perhaps he should take a gap year or maybe he shouldn’t even attend college at all!

And what if he’s a junior?  Plenty of time, right?  Wrong!  In order to alleviate stress and confusion later on, a junior should be well into his college search by this time.  He should have developed his initial list of schools in the fall, and should be narrowing down his “top choices” right now and planning to visit them during spring break.  Proper research ensures that a student will find a good match, so it’s critical that he spends adequate time exploring universities.  Ideally, by the end of his junior year, a student should have narrowed down his college list to fewer than ten schools AND ideally, he should have visited them.  “What’s the rush?” you ask?  The college planning process operates on a very specific timeline and the sooner you adjust your life to that timeline, the better off you’ll be.  Generally speaking, students want to begin writing college essays in the summer between their junior and senior years, and they want to submit their applications by November 1st of their senior year.  When you backtrack from that date, it’s easy to see why I suggest that all students finish both standardized testing and college planning during their junior year. 

Freshmen and sophomores should be concentrating on academic excellence and exploring interests through various activities.  By the time a student becomes a junior, he should demonstrate focus and depth of commitment. 

Too often, college “sneaks up” on families.  Don’t let that happen to you.  Plan ahead.  High school counselors are a wealth of information, and libraries are full of  “how-to” books. (Use The Christian’s Guide to College Admissions for a unique what-to-do-when approach.)  For professional, customized college planning assistance, contact College Advising and Planning Services at (505) 918-7669.  We’ll be happy to arrange a free, face-to-face, 25-minute meeting to see if we can meet your needs.

As always, please forward this newsletter to other friends who might be interested in college planning information.  Do remember to check out the “upcoming deadlines” section of the website for a monthly calendar of what you should be doing this month to stay on track with the college planning process.

Additionally, you can “like” our FACEBOOK page (College Advising and Planning) where I post interesting articles and videos about college planning.

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