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The College Admissions Process Is Broken

Now that college acceptance and rejection decisions have found their destinations for another year, it is finally time that someone steps up and says what needs to be said: The college admissions process is broken and needs to be fixed.

As an independent college counselor, I have spent the last 15 years watching two disturbing trends on both sides of the socioeconomic spectrum. Upper- and middle-class students face a preposterous degree of pressure to attend a “good” college. Every day, I spend hours with teens applying to college. They tell me how they base a good part of their self-esteem on whether an institution deems them smart enough or good enough. To students who have barely glimpsed the challenges of life, getting into college serves as the ultimate validation for their level of ability, potential, work ethic and societal acceptance.

Consequently, more of these students are applying to more and more colleges each year to try to increase their chances of getting accepted. In fact, according to the National Association for College Admission Counseling, almost three-quarters of American colleges have seen increases in applications in 10 of the last 15 years.

For low-income or hard-pressed middle-income students – the type I once was – the process is simply overwhelming. Public schools are short on counselors, leaving students with little guidance to navigate a confusing process. Students who have parents who did not attend college are at an even greater disadvantage. These students often “undermatch” themselves, applying to too few colleges or to schools that don’t match their level of academic achievement. According to the Association for Education Finance and Policy, 50 percent of students from low-income families undermatch into colleges less selective than are warranted by their academic record.

Colleges know about these trends but have done too little to standardize their process and make it more accessible. Things are a bit easier thanks to “The Common Application,” a standardized electronic application accepted by over 600 colleges and universities. But too many schools don’t accept it, including the entire University of California system and the University of Texas system.

Even those that do often have additional requirements. Stanford University, for example, requires three different essay answers, along with multiple short answer responses that are completely different from those required by say, The University of Pennsylvania. Some colleges require two recommendations and SAT subject tests, while others do not.

Application timelines also vary. The deadline for The University of Vermont is different from that the one required by USC. Some colleges offer interviews, in some cases requiring students to sign up in September, while in other cases granting interviews only after the application is submitted.

This is just a fraction of the minutiae the typical 17-year-old college applicant must figure out. Ask any parent who has tried to shepherd a child through the process and you will hear horror stories about last minute essays, screaming matches over missed deadlines and frustration over different requirements.

Today’s application process is no picnic for college admission offices either. They also have the virtually impossible task of sorting through 20,000-100,000 applications in a matter of months, trying to find interesting, smart, diverse students who will actually come to their campuses and take advantage of the education that is offered. For any given college, much of this is wasted effort: as applications increase, the majority of the accepted students will turn them down and attend another institution.

This system frustrates everyone in the process, except perhaps people in my business who help families navigate this chaos. But enough is enough. Colleges need to work together to make the process more manageable and sane.

First, all colleges and universities in the United States should standardize their requirements and deadlines. The Common Application should be used for this purpose unless and until a better solution is developed. Additionally, all colleges should require the same personal statement and only one supplemental essay – I’d suggest the popular prompt of “Why do you want to attend this specific college?” because it forces students to research the schools to which they are applying.

Yes, I hear you admission staff. A standardized process with just two essays will actually drive up the number of students applying to multiple colleges. This is why I also suggest capping the number of colleges to which a student can apply at 12. In my experience, this number allows plenty of choices while encouraging students to focus their attention on colleges they would actually attend.

These changes would free up time and resources for college admissions offices, restore sanity during the application process and most importantly, make college more accessible to all.

Whether it is true or not for every individual, we live in an era where a college degree is considered a necessity for success. Perhaps we can at least start a discussion about making it easier to get in.

How to Help Teens Manage the End of the School Year

The school year is coming to a close so that means huge final assignments and lots of fun events for teens. From the ACT and SAT exams to course finals, students are loaded with stressful work. Although they are in the midst of these scholarly activities, there is still prom and other celebratory events for them to unwind at. However, managing all these things can be a challenge. Parents and teachers should pass them the following tips – and keep a few for themselves – to ensure students do well academically and make memories in the process.

1) Plan ahead
Do not procrastinate. Fill out your applications ahead of time, work on your assignments as soon as you get them, and just get things done as soon as you can. You don’t want to be writing final papers when you should be getting ready for prom or at an end of the year party with your friends.

2) Let teachers know what is going on
A lot of teachers will offer flexibility in the right cases. If you ask politely and explain your load, some teachers may be understanding and give you extensions. But while parents and teachers should be understanding, they shouldn’t enable or let teens take advantage. Students need to learn how to schedule and plan.

3) Don’t feel bad for saying no to events
It may be hard for teens to skip out on events that all their friends are going to, but it is important for them to choose whether some are worth going to or just staying for an hour. Students aren’t going to benefit from over-committing themselves or procrastinating in college, so creating good habits now is important.

4) Don’t forget to have fun
Teens shouldn’t get so caught up in getting things done that they lose focus on the here and now, like making memories and enjoying time with their friends. While students shouldn’t burn the candle at both ends, they luckily have a couple of months to recover. Just enjoy your time and finish strong. Do the best that you can so that you know that you’re proud of yourself.

High Expectations From Parents Can Harm Students

Parental expectations that are too high can end up impairing a student’s drive for success in school, research shows.

The observations, published in 2015, are from a five-year study of more than 3,500 middle and high school students in Germany.

Researchers examined the results of annual math tests given to students. They also asked parents to list the grades they hoped their children would earn, as well as the grades they thought their children could reasonably obtain.

The study showed that while realistic expectations helped kids perform well, unrealistically high expectations harmed student achievement.

“Although parental aspiration is an important vehicle through which children’s academic potential can be realized, excessive parental aspiration can be poisonous,” researchers noted.

The team repeated their study using data from US students and parents, and saw the same patterns.

“High parental aspiration led to increased academic achievement, but only when it did not overly exceed realistic expectation,” according to a press release from the American Psychological Association, which published the study. “When aspiration exceeded expectation, the children’s achievement decreased proportionately.”

Myths About College Admissions

Waiting to hear back from colleges about your acceptance can be stressful. Basically, your first steps into adult world are being determined by an admissions counselor based on endless factors. Did you take enough AP classes? Did you do enough extracurricular activities? Should you have applied earlier? Is your admissions essay unique enough? It’s hard not to constantly think about all these things but some things may not matter as much as you think. Ease your mind and check out these myths about admissions.

 

MYTH #1: THE APPLICATION IS THE ONLY THING THAT MATTERS

Universities that you apply for track you. They keep a record of how many times you have contacted the school, if you’ve arranged for a campus visit, or if you’ve requested more information. Doing these added steps really show colleges your interest and it can give you the extra push that you need to get in.

Part of a university’s prestige is its yield rate, which refers to the number of accepted applicants who actually enroll. Showing additional interest will give the admissions counselors confidence that you will actually attend if they accept you.

 

MYTH #2: EXTRACURRICULARS ARE NECESSARY

The best way to impress admissions counselors, as always, is to authentically pursue what interests you. The broad majority of applicants will actually be overqualified for the colleges they apply to and will also have various extracurriculars and experiences. In turn, admissions officers are looking for applicants who have had leadership roles or have played an important role in a major project or organization. It is best to have fewer activities where you focused and made a difference rather than more where you were just a participant.

 

MYTH #3: AVERAGE GRADES IN DIFFICULT CLASSES ARE BETTER THAN A’S IN EASY ONES

Of course, colleges and universities like to see students take demanding classes in high school. However, selective schools usually don’t like grades that are below a B; struggling in more than one difficult class is not seen as a plus. So, unless students can manage a B or higher in higher-level courses, it is probably best to just stick with regular classes.

Admissions officers says that although grade point averages can be boosted because of challenging classes, they can tell when a GPA is bloated. This is because high schools use distinct grading systems and offer course with the same title but differing levels of difficulty. In fact, many universities have a system of their own to recalculate GPAs.

 

MYTH #4: ADMISSIONS ESSAYS AREN’T A BIG DEAL

Essays can be the deciding factor when it comes to students whom admissions counselors are on the fence about. A student with average grades and test scores could catch counselors’ attention with a well-crafted, insightful essay or they can be rejected for a crummy one.

Submitting bad essays can always hurt your application even if you are an ideal candidate. You may be in a position where you don’t exactly need to submit an extraordinary essay, but a procrastinated essay or one that clearly shows that you didn’t put much effort into it can knock you out of the running.

How Busy Parents can Help their Children Succeed at School

Having a high school kid is like sitting in the roller coaster car as they climb the incline of freshman year, sophomore year, then begin the crazy roller coaster into junior year and ultimately arrive at the end, the senior year.

These next four years fly by really quickly so hang on.

And as a working parent, all this can sometimes feel like a juggling act. Aside from making sure, you look immaculate for your business presentation. There’s also the marathon of coming home. After beating every red light to get through the rush hour traffic, you have to fix a dinner several degrees above the standard microwave fare. In all these, you’ve yet to have “ME” time, spouse time and time out with friends and family members. Whew!!

For parents, the apron strings are pretty much frayed to the last thread by the end of senior year. Your child will become vastly more independent. They may start driving, dating, and working at their first job. Family time wanes as their teenage lives begin to travel at a thrilling speed. They are hurtling toward their future, and all a parent can do is hang on to life and encourage them towards greater and bigger things.

The stress of juggling childrearing responsibilities with the demands of work takes a toll on many parents’ personal and professional lives. Over 50% of all employees report that job demands interfere with their personal responsibilities, while 43% of employees say that their family responsibilities interfere with their work performance, according to a study by the American Psychological Association.

Often, there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything done and meet everyone’s needs. While managing a career and family leaves some parents feeling guilty and frazzled, others seem to be able to effortlessly balance parenthood with full-time work. Parents who are able to raise well-adjusted children while also maintaining a career have to make sacrifices in order to keep up with the pace.

There are many aspects of how parents can be an important and positive influence in making decisions as a child gets groomed and follows everything that he has seen in his life whereas excessive parental control results in adverse outcomes. Parents should be cautioned against imposing their own goals on to their children or seeing their child’s accomplishments as a reflection on themselves. So while parents should show genuine interest and support. Choosing a career is an extremely important decision that impacts an individual‘s entire future, so parents can become very stressed as they can unwittingly make the past seem perfect and the future terrifying.
Parents influence the level of education or training that their children achieve; the knowledge they have about work and different occupations; the beliefs and attitudes they have to working; and the motivation they have to succeed. Most of this is learned unconsciously, children and teenagers absorb their parent’s attitude and expectations as they grow up.

Some of the key factors are as follows:

• Encourage your children to get as much education as possible
• Help them to discover their innate talents and skills
• Develop their knowledge of the world of work
• Teach them decision- making skills
• Value gender equity and cultural diversity
• Become aware of career resources/ education and training opportunities
• Observe the effects of work experience.

Parents should guard against shooting down ideas their children may have about their future careers. If they react negatively, it may shut down the whole exploration process. Parents need to keep the lines of communication open and encourage their child to gather as much information as possible on their career interest areas. A parent must recognize that their role is simply to act as a facilitator in their child’s career journey and allowing independent career choices marks a first real step into adulthood.

Look out for the danger signs in your child’s approach:
1) Waiting until the last minute to make decisions.
2) Unrealistic expectations.
3) Promises to work miracles with study next term.
4) Carrying too many higher -level subjects in spite of poor reports from teachers.
5) Interference from social activities or a weekend job which is funding their social life.
6) Selecting a course because the career is well paid. They are more likely to gain a good result in their degree if they enjoy and are interested in the course.

All the above are points that parents need to consider to make it easier for them and their children to progress in their personal and professional lives ahead of them. What can be a lot more favorable situation is that parents and children should be in regular touch with the High School counselors who can help bridge the gap due to hectic work hours and scores of responsibilities and expectations. This works best in making sure children are not neglected and parents are up to date with their progress.

Where should students seek guidance for university

Students are assets of our society because they hold the key to making changes and can make a successful future. Therefore, it is the duty of the society to provide them with complete guidance on what degree program and the educational institution they should select as well as how to become a catalyst for change.

The parental involvement in the children’s education is the most influential and interconnected element described as the personal backgrounds and the economic background of parents. These two components primarily depend upon the environment provided by parents to their children. With the social evolution, it is observed that most of the parents in the USA are not exposed to the recent educational system which creates a big hurdle for the students in making decision regarding their career path.

High school is the time when students begin to discover what the future holds for them. But here they mostly come up with the clutter of questions. High School Counselors are here to make things easier for students. They engage in enhancing the learning process and promote academic achievements. Their programs are essential for students to achieve optimal personal growth, acquire positive social skills and values, set appropriate career goals and realize the full academic potential to become productive members of the society.

The High School Counselors’ holds wide range of state certification in school counseling. Maintaining certification includes on-going professional development to stay in touch with the current educational reforms and challenges faced by today’s student. Also, professional association membership is encouraged as it enhances the school counselor’s knowledge and effectiveness.

High School Counselor helps to fill the gap between the students and the university. Counselor help students thrive academically, personally and socially, and assist them in exploring their educational career options.

A counselor’s role may go unnoticed, but it plays a vital role in guiding the student throughout their career. High school counselor works with students on immediate issues and future planning and helps them reap out the benefits from each and every opportunity.

Counselors also guide and assist students in understanding the requirements of the college or university because many individuals do not have a clear vision and do not know much about the undergraduate programs and process. Along with this they also provide recommendation letters for the students to the universities which acts as a plus point for the students.

The main purpose of high school counselors is to ensure the students are prepared to become the next best generation of parents, workers, leaders, and citizens.

Applying to University: Your High School Counselor’s Role

Your guidance or college counselor is the most important people in your school life. Counselors can help even an average student apply and gain admission to a first-rate college or university. In the US, counselors send their students’ high school transcripts to universities and colleges. And this is just the one thing they do among the other great work that helps students to excel in their academic and then practical career.

What Your Counselor Can Help You Do

1. Find Universities
The counselors, having years of experience and great academic background helps students in creating a list of universities/colleges based on their interest, capacity, ability, and qualities that will match with the institution’s growing demands. While counselors know more about their students, they are the best resource at hand to narrow down the wishlist to possibilities that will flourish a student’s future.

2. Understand Requirements
Every university/college have different application requirements. This could be tricky for students that are applying for the first time. Sure! Parents can help out, but they will know little as over the years third level education has changed rapidly. For those who are the first in their family to go to university will find it useful that counselors are available to explain the requirements of each institution they are applying to. Most require applicants to submit an essay. Many ask candidates to send scores from an admission test, such as the SAT or the ACT. Therefore, counselors are brilliant to guide in this manner and help students register for admission tests, if necessary.

3. Get Recommendations
It is very usual for universities to ask for a recommendation letter from a high school counselor. Therefore, meeting the counselor and taking guidance will shape up a good letter of recommendation because the counselor will know how serious the student is in going to university. Also, a lot of interaction results in the counselor being aware of the student to write him/her the recommendation he/she deserves. And having excellent relations will work in a student’s favor. So regular meet up with the counselor is the best way to secure admission in a good institution.

4. Make the Most of Your Time with Your Counselor
Remember tons of students will be rushing in and asking time from the high school counselor as university application season arrives. Hence, every student needs to ensure that they remain on the top of their game to secure maximum counselors’ time. Here’s how!

Students need to be an early bird. They need to go to the counselor way ahead of the university deadlines making sure the groundwork and researching for universities and essay topics are already done, and it is presented for expert advice. In the meanwhile just don’t get information but also make a request for a recommendation letter. Planning well ahead of time will make it easier for the counselor to give each student a timely answer and for the students a well-directed recommendation letter.

Every student should be organized and make a calendar marked with important dates and reminders before the deadlines of university applications. Also, always read “Applying to College: FAQs for tips”.

Very important aspect of the applications season is that students need to be responsible. The counselors can help in many ways, but this is a student’s project and its responsibility. Therefore, schedule appointments when you need to talk to the counselor and be prepared.

What universities are looking for?

The admission department’s decisions at the University is primarily based on the academic criteria. While the University looks for ability and potential in a student, it also assesses everyone individually, which means they look at and for different things in different students for different courses. Although, there is no magic formula that guarantees a place at the University. The admissions tutors are always looking for students who they believe:

1.  Have the most academic ability and potential
2. The student who will benefit from and flourish in the University learning environment
3.  The student who is best suited to the course they applied for

Academic Ability and Potential

However, according to counselors, all admissions tutors of Universities look for students that they believe have the learning ability, capacity and will benefit from and flourish in the set learning environment. The admission tutors usually determined the fate of a student by the examination grades in high school and recommendations from counselors and teachers.

Learning at University

Universities look for an indication of a student’s ability to think critically and independently. Also its willingness to argue logically while keeping an open mind to new ideas as well. A student also needs self-discipline, motivation, commitment, and the desire and the potential to go beyond what they have learned at school or in the future at University.

Suitability and Enthusiasm for the Course

Finally, counselors have stressed for decades that students should learn about the subject they’ve applied for and shouldn’t only be interested in the degree at the end. Universities at interview rounds gauge it quite quickly making it an infamous reasons as to why students do not make it to their desired Universities. Therefore it is very important that students should sit down with their counselors and figure out which subject area(s) they are most enthused and inspired about studying for the next few years.

Keynote for Students

There is no blueprint for an ideal student that Universities want, and they give applicants as many opportunities as possible to demonstrate their strengths and potential. Therefore, each application is considered individually and holistically, using all of the following information:

1. Academic record
2. School/college reference
3. Personal statement
4. Any written work submitted
5. Performance in any written assessment
6. Contextual data
7. Performance at interview

Every application is considered holistically. The admission’s tutor analyzes all of the information available before making any decisions. No part of the application is considered separately. For example, a student’s written assessment performance or performance at interview alone does not determine the outcome of their application.

More Parents struggling to balance the work, home life

The American economy has not quite recovered from the recession and families across the country are struggling to make ends meet. Therefore long hours of work are inevitable for both parents of the house. Thus, leaving children without proper care and attention that they require, especially in the early and teen years.


In 2016, there are more mothers than ever are in the workforce. According to research, “women now make up half of all workers in the United States, with nearly 4 in 10 homes having a mom that is also a working mother.”


Among the parents, mothers always played a central role in child care and development because of their sensitivity and God gifted nature to love and pamper their family more than their male spouses. It’s not a piece of cake to strike a balance between work and home. There are pros and cons to every option. If both the parents are employed full-time or part-time, you may have a better standard of living and have fewer economic problems. You may also feel delighted that you’re making an impact. On the contrary, you may also feel that you are missing out on family life. You’re not there for your kids or your partner.

Some of the frequent changes in behavior of the child are as follows:

1. Child behavior such as alcohol use, violence, and anti-social behavior increases as parents involvement decreases.

2. Children are more likely to fall behind in academic performance as their parents do not participate in school events, develop a link with their child’s educators, or keep up with what is happening in their child’s school life.

3. Students whose parents remain involved in their children’s academic life are more likely to go to university and have successful careers. Students whose parents are not involved, on the other hand, are more apt to quit school – forget about the university.

4. Students achieve more when their parents are by their side, regardless of parents’ education level or socio-economic status.

5. It has been seen that students perform better, achieve higher grades, better attendance, and complete homework consistently when their parents are involved in their child’s education.

6. It has also been noted that a more positive attitude is exhibited by the student when parents are involved, have increased enthusiasm and better self-esteem.

One more thing affecting the children of the parents who are not efficiently balancing the work/home life is that the parents lose their standing in front of their children. Their children tend to listen to their high school friends instead of their parents. Therefore, ending up being a misfit/rebel for the society.

This is where High School Counselors comes in. Traditionally the high school counselors use to deal with students looking to take admission in universities. However, their role has become far diverse. The misfits, rebels or poor performance students are now targeted by counselors with a sole purpose to build that very important relationship of trust. Once that has been achieved, the counseling sessions start for the overall betterment of the student. Parents that are busy in their hectic work routine to meet costs at home should at least take-out time once a month and visit the counselor of the school that their children are going to. Discussing problems and more importantly knowing about their child is paramount in its development.

Understanding high school counselors’ pivotal role in student development

High School counselors’ relationship with students is not limited to them just being in school. However for many, it may extend in the form of mentors and coaches. It is no surprise that students may require counselors to play a larger role giving them sound advice for better career development. Since the high school counselors are the best resource at hand not only for students but parents, teachers, and universities – speaks volume of their importance in a child’s upbringing.

Research has shown that students who pursue school-based counseling work towards improving their self-esteem, confidence and their anger management issues. It is an on-going process or even a life long journey for some students, and once a student enters third level education, it does not mean that they need to let go of their mentor. Instead, a lot of them keep coming back to their high school counselors for sessions focusing on their chosen education, career path and challenges at the university.

Today the education industry has evolved having several courses to offer – sometimes hundreds of them, making students not only nervous but confused at the time of choosing the right academic field for a prosperous future. All of a sudden when reality struck, the students may not be prepared and may break down. Leading towards a complete shutdown in thought process forcing the students to take a gap year. In short, making it disastrous for the students and the universities that aggressively work towards student recruitment.

In an ideal scenario, universities should work closely with high school counselors who will better inform the students about the institution, their ranking and most importantly the offerings. Since high school counselors are close to their students, they will better understand which student will fit well into which university. Therefore not compromising on student’s development while also serving the right crowd to the universities. For example, a student with a learning disability will be better guided by their high school counselor keeping in mind the tolerance that the university can offer and the degree program that will match the future working of the student. Thus, leaving a positive impact on both.

Many universities realize and understand the right way to go about student recruitment. Hence for decades they are focusing on strengthens ties with the high school counselors. Many also make them participate in annual surveys, gathering big data that helps universities to forecast student interests and trends. Therefore attracting not thousands of students but most importantly the right ones, thus, contributing to a substantial alumni structure once they finish graduation.

To conclude, high school counselors have the most influence in an active student’s life, playing a pivotal role in their life choices, achievements, and overall capacity building. Therefore, universities that interact and have a healthy and an active counselor network are not only working on the grass root level but also see positive results when the students get the right information that universities hope to convey in the most understanding manner.