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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. 


Colleges for Twins

Got Twins?

Sure they are twice as much fun, and often twice the price, but it does not have to be that way when it comes to colleges. Twinversity offers up important considerations in the colleges search. Verywell offers a specific list of colleges offering discounts or scholarships for Twins



One For All: Scholarships for Multiples Who Attend the Same College

Generally, the available scholarship funding is offered when twins attend the same college.


Here are some colleges and universities with specific programs.

  • Randolph College, Lynchburg, Virginia. Offers a 15% discount on tuition when both twins are enrolled; the scholarship is renewable each year of enrollment. There is no application process; contact the financial aid department for further information. In 2008-2009, five sets of twins took advantage of the discount.
  • Sterling College, Sterling Kansas. Sterling College has had a Twin Scholarship program for 20 years or so. Each twin (or multiple births) students receives a 50% tuition scholarship. For 2009, that amount would be $9,000 for each twin. Both twins (or multiple births) must be enrolled full time at Sterling College and must meet admissions requirements of a 2.2 GPA and a score of 18 or above on the ACT.
  • Wilson College, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. Wilson College is another all-female school that offers an annual scholarship for twins and triplets. It will pay 45% of each student’s annual tuition. To be eligible, all of the female siblings must enroll full-time each semester. Each recipient must submit her enrollment deposit by May 1 in order to receive this scholarship. Awards are made on a first come, first-served basis.
  • Carl Albert State College, Poteau, Oklahoma. The Paula Nieto Twin Scholarship was established by her twin, Penny Nieto Gooch, and family friends. This cash scholarship is awarded to twins. In 2006, the amount was $200 to each student.
  • Lake Erie College, Painesville, Ohio. This full tuition scholarship (up to 18 credit hours per semester) is awarded 50/50 if both are enrolled full-time at Lake Erie College. In essence, both twins can attend LEC for the tuition cost of only one.



  • Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College , Miami, Oklahoma. The Twin/Triplet Dorm Waiver covers the amount of semi-private room expenses for each twin or triplet who attend NEO together. It is available for both fall and spring semesters. Anapplication form is available online.
  • Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana. The Layton Frazier McKinley Scholarship is given to twins with a preference given to identical twins. Twin students must have a 3.33-grade point average or higher with a first choice of accounting as their major at the school. The amount is unconfirmed.
  • Eastern Michigan University, Ypsilanti, Michigan. The Furlotte Twins Endowed Scholarship is for upperclassmen enrolled in the College of Education Elementary Education Program with a minimum 3.0 GPA that exhibits promise, creativity, and academic conscientiousness. Preference is given to twins.

Multiple Sibling Discounts

Even if a college or university does not have a specific scholarship fund or award designated for twins, they may have a sibling discount program.



These programs offer a discount when siblings from the same family are enrolled simultaneously. Amounts vary and may be a set discount (ex. $500 per semester) or a percentage of tuition (such as 10-50% off the cost of tuition).


  • Quinnipiac University, Hamden, Connecticut. Full-time, undergraduate siblings concurrently in attendance at Quinnipiac are eligible to receive an additional $2,000 award, per year, in addition to their regular financial aid award. This award is applicable toward tuition only and is renewable each year in which undergraduate eligible siblings are concurrently in attendance.
  • George Washington University, Washington D.C. Not just for twins, the family program at GWU offers a 50% discount for a second sibling. For more information about the Family Grant at GWU, contact the Office of Financial Assistance at 2121 I St., NW #310, Washington, DC 20052, (202) 994-6620 or (800) 222-6242.
  • California Baptist University, Riverside, California. The Multiple Sibling Discount is designed to assist students from families with two or more members who are simultaneously attending the traditional undergraduate program at the university on a full-time basis. Recipients must be immediate members of the same family (siblings or parents) in which two or more family members are currently enrolled at California Baptist University on a full-time basis. Recipients receive $500 per semester for the Spring and Fall semesters.

Some others from TwinStuff

  • Morris Brown College (web site) — Atlanta, GA
    • Provide some financial relief for parents with twins who are enrolled full-time at Morris Brown College by waiving full tuition for one of the twins. Each twin must maintain a 2.0 GPA at the end of each academic year. Tuition for 2002-03 was $4184 per semester.
  • Northeastern Oklahoma A & M College (web ?site) — 200 I Street NE, Miami, OK 74354
    Twins/Triplets must attend NEO together. Provides $440 for each twin/triplet each fall and spring for room expenses.

  • West Chester University of Pennsylvania  Bonnie Evans Feinberg Scholarship
    To an incoming first year student from a middle-class, multiple – sibling family who is a solid “b” or better student. Renewable with maintenance of a 3.0 gpa (awarded to one student only per year).

Stats, lies and distortions

Inc. in declared: “LinkedIn Reveals the Schools Desired by Top Companies” which led me to the original study by Withmydegree who stated they “Using LinkedIn, we took a look at the hiring trends for alumni from top colleges to learn more. ” Only their results reveal something entirely else. Yes many significant companies hire from top schools. In this graphic, the vast majority companies hire more than 50% of their workforce from not the top 100:

Facebook is an exception, hiring 50% from the top 10 colleges. Facebook has 13,598 employees as of March 31, 2016. USing linked in myself I determined that 1300 current employees came from the US News top 10. This works bout to about 10%. Hardly the 55% the chart shows. In fairness, the article does state new grads. My basic linked in account does not allow for that differentiation. Facebook had almost 12,000 employees as of 9/15/15. This suggest they hired about 1600 people this past year. The chart suggests 900 came from the top 11 schools (we have a tie in number 10). Zuck’s own “strategy” on hiring gives little insight: “So the Facebook CEO said that his team looks for people whose values align with the company’s. ”Facebook is not a company for everyone in the world,” he said.” Director of Product Design, Julia Zhou says:

Sometimes, designers without traditional training possess an ingenuity that you don’t usually see. We’re really just looking for people who have that element of extreme pro-activity. Even if they did go to a great school, they should have experience stretching themselves on projects both inside and outside of the classroom. Great candidates take the initiative to experiment, design and build on their own.


While the liberal arts rock, if you gain these skills, you will roll into the job market

While politicians decry the neccesity of the liberal arts, many business leaders see the inherint value in the soft skill development embedded within their approach. 
But developing those skills only gets you so far. Want to be more competitive for the job market and be rewarded for it? Add at least one of the skills sets from below: