“I am not a teacher, but an awakener.”
― Robert Frost

In the article Best, Brightest, and Rejected: Elite Colleges Turn Away Up to 95% by Richard Pérez-Peña, New York Times, APRIL 8, 2014, the headline stated the ominous news: “College admissions are getting exponentially harder. Why? Students clamor more and more to take honors and Advanced Placement courses, participate in a myriad of extra-curricular activities (sports, band, clubs, etc.), hold part-time jobs, participate in community-service, achieve exemplary grades, and fall well within the top 10% or higher in their class.” In addition, they have exceptional standardized test scores (either the SAT or ACT, or both), a decent admission essay – and yet they get rejection letters from schools they SHOULD have gotten in to. The million dollar question is why?

Parents should ready themselves to rethink questions about which college is best for their child. Reshape the questions to reflect the best interests of their child, and, quite bluntly, not the parents.

Some examples:

  1. Not what is the best school for my child, but rather, What’s the best school where my child will flourish?
  2. Not which school will accept my child, but rather, Where does MY child to choose to matriculate?
  3. Not which school has the best reputation (highest ranking), but rather Where will my child be most excited to learn?

What does the significance of the above-mentioned questions really mean? We take for granted what others have done for us, in short, reading the US News & World Report Best College Ranking and listening to those who base college decisions from that list. Hearing other parents “bragging” that their child is accepted at a tier one school (Harvard, Amherst, etc.) and trying to “keep up with the Joneses,” or strongly urging your child as a legacy to attend where you matriculated my all have merit. But, they all seem to provide answers or quantify why YOU want your child to attend a particular college – very seldom does it answer the question of why THEY want to attend. On an anecdotal note, children (even mine) should have to research the schools to which they plan to apply. Dare we say empowerment? Yes, have them find out key information such as:

  • Average SAT/ACT scores
  • Any SAT II’s needed? How many?
  • Average class size
  • Percentage of graduates in their planned major with job placement
  • International opportunity for classes
  • Admission essay and supplemental topics
  • Tour and interview policy

And so on. While the list may tend to be exhausting, the basics are required to have your child investigate and take ownership in his or her future. While parents may be fronting or assisting with college costs, at the end of the day they are NOT in the classrooms with their children. For all of the pushing or – as I’ve heard and seen – “steering” a child towards a particular college selection, remember, on the first day of class they are flying solo.

Please see the Senior to-do list which will help your student begin to make sense of, and become organized in, this process.

-Dean Graziano, JD, Director of Education and Program Director

Senior Year To-Do List


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