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The parent’s guide to college admission part 1

What role should the parent be playing in the college admission process? Willard Dix suggest parents “Become a mentor as much as a parent” in his excellent artcile “Ten Ways For Parents To Get On Top Of The College Admission Process” providing a short guide to what he means by mentoring:

This is the moment you can begin to step back from your authoritative role to become a mentor, “guiding without steering.” Instead of telling your student what to do, you start asking open-ended and non-directive questions like, “Tell me why you like that college?” or “How do you think that major will help you in the future?” Finding a good balance here can be difficult if you’re used to being more directive, but you’ll be surprised how positive transferring responsibility while offering help when needed can be.

He follows this up with 9 other excellent points from “expect complications” to “talk about hopes” and “don’t nag.”

I want to follow up more on the role a parent can play that moves applying to college from a transaction to its own journey into self and how parents can and sould be a guide for that journey. So expect a part 2. 

Don’t become a doctor…so argues a doctor

in a rather compelling essay in Business Insider; he argues that

the training time is disporption to

  • the cost
  • and debt
  • and satisfaction


Early results 2016

Yep…bumper year…increase in applications. Increase in quality…lower admit rates…you know the drill…but what is the story? Colleges have been slower to release details this year. Some (I am looking at you Stanford) has decided not to tell us at all. Why? Who knows. Certainly puting uup lists of admit rates potentially contributes to the admission rat race, but for many of us it helps us in our advising and making sense of what is happening. Why did Emory’s great side door known as Oxford suddently get discovered? How did Chicago’s addition of ED I and II plans impact their EA applicants and rates? We don’t know becuase they have not told us?

Below is the list of shools that have shared some ifnormation with relvant links:

Early Decision


College/University Name

ED Acceptance Percentage

Increase in ED Applications

% of class filled


Babson College




Barnard College

Historically: 42%



Bentley University





Brandeis University
























Emory (oxford)







Fordham University



Harvey Mudd College




Johns Hopkins




Loyola Marymount University


first year with ED
















University of Rochester



Up 20%






Does not have questbridge. Will go up.










* approximation based on information provided in common data set.


Early Action

College/University Name 

EA Acceptance Percentage 

Percentage Increase in EA 



Babson College




Chapman University




Fordham University




Georgetown Univerrsity






Loyola Marymount University













Notre Dame






U Georgia








Parenting for normal in the college process

By loading kids with high expectations and micromanaging their lives at every turn, parents aren’t actually helping. At least, that’s how Julie Lythcott-Haims sees it. With passion and wry humor, the former Dean of Freshmen at Stanford makes the case for parents to stop defining their children’s success via grades and test scores. Instead, she says, they should focus on providing the oldest idea of all: unconditional love.


8 Mistakes teens make in applying to colleges

After having done this a long time, I notice students have a tendency to make certain mistakes. 

1) Mistake #1: Waiting to the Last Minute 

Fred Hargon, formerly of Princeton and Stanford, used to say that an application was not like a fine bottle of wine. It does not get better with age. Waiting to the last minute often creates stress for you and the people in your life. 

Julie Shimabukuro, Director of undergraduate admissions, Washington University in St. Louis  offers this insighte:

Many students who submit on the date of the deadline assume that everything transmitted and was received. But sometimes things are lost in cyberspace. By the time we process the thousands of pieces of information that come in on the final day, the actual deadline has come and gone, and it’s possible that something is still missing.

The best tool to help you? Your calendar. 

2)  Mistake #2: Not working with your counselor
Your counselors often know a lot about admissions, specific colleges and universities and you. Your hopes and dreams, interests, quirks and pet peaves. Moreover, in many cases they will be directly advocating for your admissions. So it is encumbent on you to ensure your counselor knows you. To that end, aim to check in every two weeks or so. 
3)  Mistake #3: Not applying deep
Personally I love workith with ambitious students. But the goal of college admission is to not just get in, but to thrive when you get there. To first part, getting in, you need some schools on your list at which you will be a star. Malcolm Gladwell has a strong opion about going to the place you can be the star. 

Work with your counselor to examine the specific selectivity of a college, especially as it relates to your school. Take advantage of visits to your campus. If a college is visiting, they are interested. 

And every college on your list ought to inspire you. 

4)  Mistake #4:Scratching the surface

If a collges has a supplimentary question, it matters. Often they want to know your specific motivation. As Eric J. Furda, admissions dean at the University of Pennsylvania, indicates:
“We wanted to know, why Penn? Did you submit a generic essay that was part of a school’s supplement—another school’s supplement? You may need to do a little bit more research before you hit the submit button. Take notes during the campus visit, and even if it isn’t your top choice, still understand that you need to speak to that school and show what you are going to contribute to that campus. Articulate why this school is for you. Students who do well will start citing faculty and programs they want to explore.”
Typically, the application offers specific, limited opportunities to share about you. Amy Jarich
UC Berkeley, offers this insight: 
In the application, the real estate is so valuable. Each part of it should be telling us something new … If you’ve told us in one essay how you live with your extended family and how important that is in your life, don’t tell us in the second essay about how the person you most admire is your grandmother … You want us to think: “That brings a new piece to this puzzle. I like that.” 
5)  Mistake #5: Well begun, half done
Just write it. Students overthnk the essays, and underwrite. Or more precisely, underedit. I have found using the pomodero method can greatly help in your productivity as an applicant. There are a few stages in the technique:
  1. Decide on the task to be done–write an essay or fill in the application. 
  2. Set the pomodoro timer (traditionally to 25 minutes).
  3. Work on the task until the timer rings. If a distraction pops into your head, write it down, but immediately get back on task.
  4. After the timer rings, put a checkmark on a piece of paper.
  5. If you are in the zone, continue on. If not, take a break (3-5 minutes–leave your desk)
  6. When you return do a different task with the same timer. 
  7. After you have 3 ticks, (ie you spent three pomoderos doing tasks, take a longer break (15–30 minutes), reset your checkmark count to zero, then go to step 1.
Learn more from the woman who originated it. Here is a free iphone timer
Using your calendar to set specific tasks each week is inspired. Keep it simple and you will feel more satisifed. 
Another part of the story to keep in mind: All admissions are conditional. SO aim to keep a storng year. Here are some tips to avoid senioritous. 

6)  Mistake #6: Missing the Details, details, details

Check deadlines directly with all your colleges.
Check all entry requirements and admission documents specifically with your university. 
Do both of these now. 
Proof-read all your applications. 
Have someone else profreed your applications. 

7)  Mistake #7: Not owning the process

Who is going to college? Yes, parents are paying and often know their teen well and thus should be involved, but as sounding board and coach. the student MUST take respoonsibility for all parts of the process from researching to applying. One idea I think works very well is a weekly meeting between student and mom and dad conducted in a business style. o it over lunch. Have to do lists. In between, avoid talking about college. The senior knows what needs to be done and needs space to do it. 
Here is a handy to avoid role confusion. 
8)  Mistake #8: Not looking after yourself
Most teens are going to really blow it with the following:
  • Not eating well
  • Not getting enough sleep
  • Not exercising
  • Not enjoying life
Technology is part of the issues, but it can also be part of the solution as I portray it in this article here. I am a big fan of also taking time every day to cultivate some stillness through mindfulness. My personal favorite is Smiling Mind, a free web platform and phone app. 

Colleges and guns

The US has long had a special relationship with guns, one that often puzzles many international students. Several states potentially allow tudents to carry concealed guns. While some states allow it, they leave it up to the invidual institution. Others do not permit an instutional choice. The map below, from armedcampus, gives a quick insight of states and their guns on campus policy:

RED = Concealed guns allowed by law
GREY = Concealed guns allowed by law, but schools limit locations/who carries
GREEN = Concealed guns on campus prohibited by law
YELLOW = Schools decide weapons policy
ORANGE = Concealed guns allowed only in locked cars in parking lots

Colleges and guns

The US has long had a special relationship with guns, one that often puzzles many international students. Several states potentially allow tudents to carry concealed guns. While some states allow it, they leave it up to the invidual institution. Others do not permit an instutional choice. The map below gives a quick insight of states and their guns on campus policy:

Colleges and guns

The US has long had a special relationship with guns, one that often puzzles many international students. Several states potentially allow tudents to carry concealed guns. While some states allow it, they leave it up to the invidual institution. Others do not permit an instutional choice. The map below gives a quick insight of states and their guns on campus policy:

Hand tool

Often a lot of insight can be garned from documents like the common data set or a university’s strategic plan. Certainly you can google it, but some universities bury it it. I stumbled on this tool today from the Association of American University Date Exchange. “These are links to various resources at member institutions including the websites for the institution and IR office, course catalogs, factbooks, Common Data Set, organizational charts, and financial reports.”

U Maryland defers the use of the coalition application for one year

The Coalition has been absolutely lousying at communicating. They hired a new execuative director. Nothing has changed. No newsletters. No press releases. The last press release was in October. Somewhere in there several artciles focused on who would actually be using the coalition application. The current number is 56. One quietly dropped out. No surpised. Many of us are skeptical that the platform will work properly. Three universities had planned to utalize only the coalition appliation. But University of Maryland quietly deferred starting to use it until Fall of 2017. 

Q: How can my student apply to the University of Maryland (UMD)?

Students seeking admission during the 2016-17 academic year should apply using our secure Application Portal. The application for freshman admission for the Fall 2017 semester will be made available in mid-August 2016.

Beginning in mid-August 2017, UMD will use the application provided by The Coalition for Access, Affordability, and Success. This application should be used by students seeking freshman or transfer admission, or students seeking admission to the University of Maryland, College Park at Shady Grove.

As for the other two “exclusive” Coalition University: University of Florida states they are a proud member of the coalition, but offers no other details. University of Washington makes no mention of the coalition on thewebsite and states their application will open in October.