Parents of college applicants should not be contacting college admissions offices. It’s as simple as that. Too often, we hear from parents who sign up for a free consultation with us that they’ve previously reached out to college admissions counselors at the colleges to which their children will be applying. Oy vey. What were they thinking? It’s sometimes difficult to tell parents that what they did is absolutely the wrong thing to do but, at The Ivy Coach, we are in the business of telling it like it is. No fluff here.
What do you think a college admissions counselor thinks when a parent of a college applicant reaches out to him? Do you think he thinks, “Boy. I sure wish more parents would reach out to me. It really gives me a better sense of who the applicant is and what she’s all about. If not for this call from her parent, there’s no way I’d click ‘admit.’” We hope you realize this was entirely sarcastic. If not, you might have some larger issues to address. The fact is that there is absolutely no reason — ever — for a parent to reach out to a college admissions counselor. It will only hurt (not help!) a child’s chances for admission.
What it says to admissions officers is that the student isn’t independent, that there’s a good chance their parent wrote their essays, and who wants to deal with a student like this? Will the parent be calling professors as well when their child gets a ‘B’ in Introductory Psychology? How embarrassing would that be. Not the ‘B.’ The call from the parent. Your child is in college! These kinds of calls, this kind of meddling…it needs to end immediately. Don’t hurt your child’s chances in the highly selective college admissions process. Don’t ever reach out to a college admissions counselor even if you think it’ll help. It won’t. We promise.Categories: College Admissions, Parents Tags: Parenting and College Admissions, Parents and College Admissions Counselors, Parents and University Admissions, Parents Contacting College Admissions Officers, Parents Contacting College Admissions Offices
The stressful college admissions process isn’t always that much fun. If you’re a parent, it’s not fun to have to remind your child every summer day that she should start writing her college admissions essays. And when the fall rolls around and she still hasn’t made progress on this front, it will only get more stressful. Children — especially teenagers — simply don’t want to listen to their parents. They’re rebellious. They know better. To be reminded every day by a parent to write college essays may even only encourage them to put them off even longer!
There are so many mistakes that parents and students make in the college admissions process. Many of these mistakes are made because they simply don’t know better. They don’t fully understand the game of college admissions. They don’t understand how one box checked wrongly on an application or one word in an essay can mean the difference between an acceptance and a denial. But beyond the potential pitfalls of the highly selective college admissions process, parents and students often just can’t deal with each other during this most stressful time in their lives.
And that’s where we come in. When a teenager slams a door on a parent because they don’t want to talk about college essays, that parent is frustrated. We take the frustration away. We become the reminders. We bug your children to do what they need to do and when they need to do it. We get them to put that video game away. We get them to sit down and write. There’s no yelling. There are no shouting matches. We take that away. We make your relationship with your child better by serving as buffers. While there’s a whole lot more we do than merely serving as a buffer, being a buffer you’ll find is rather important!
And check out this video on Parental Stress and College Admissions.Categories: College Admissions, College Consultant, Parents Tags: Stress and College Admissions, Stress and College Applications, Stress and College Apps, Stressful College Admission, Stressful College Admissions
Parent letters and college admission. When you think of a letter from a parent being included with a student’s college application, you might think it’s utterly ridiculous. Why would a college want a letter from a parent, asks writer Justin Pope in “The Huffington Post”? Of course the vast majority of parents (and every parent we know) want their children to earn admission to the colleges of their dreams, but isn’t including a letter from a parent like the “Everybody Loves Raymond” episode where Marie lobbies an interviewer to give her son, Robert, a job?
The answer is that, yes, it is utterly ridiculous, but it is an option at certain colleges. And at these schools, parents should indeed take the option to submit letters. So what colleges? How about Smith, Holy Cross, and Mt. Holyoke? That’s right. At these colleges, parent letters are considered optional. And in this case, that means parents should do it to improve the odds for their children.
But what should be written in these college admission recommendations from parents? These letters should shed insight on your child that isn’t necessarily present in teacher or guidance counselor letters of recommendation. These letters should describe your child in a way that only you can. What these letters should not focus on is how your child’s favorite TV show is “Glee” and how he always leaves his dirty clothes under his bed. But they also shouldn’t be about how he’s such a good boy that he never leaves his dirty laundry under the bed. These letters must share significant insight.
Sometimes sharing an anecdote can be the best way to convey the kind of person your child is. While we’ve said it before as students write college essays, we’ll say it again: Show. Don’t tell. You have an audience for these letters. An audience with a short attention span. So engage them right off the bat! These letters are ultimately not the most significant components of one’s application to a school like Smith but, in college admissions, every component counts.Categories: Parents, Teacher / Counselor Recommendations Tags: Admission Letters from Parents, Parent Letters and College Admission, Parental Letters and College Admission, Parents and College Admission, University Admission and Parents
If you’re a student who recently received an acceptance letter — or many acceptance letters — to the college or colleges of your dreams, be sure not to start slacking off. Why’s that? Because the very same college that may have once offered you a spot in their incoming freshman class may now choose to rescind their offer should your grades slip or should you get yourself into trouble.
About two-thirds of rescinded decisions are the result of slipping grades. Does that mean that if you get your first “B,” you’ll lose your offer of admission? No. That would be extremely unlikely. What if you get an “F” or a couple of “D’s?” In that case, yes, your offer of admission is certainly now in jeopardy. Why would you put yourself in this position? If you were able to maintain great grades for so many years, why couldn’t you do it for just a few more months? Is it really worth it to risk it all?
And what’s the other one-third of rescinded admissions decisions? Disciplinary actions. That could mean acting out at school, getting suspended, getting arrested, or even participating in senior pranks. Just because you got into college doesn’t mean you can become this whole new person who doesn’t have any regard for the rules and regulations of your school and society. Such disregard for the rules (or laws) can very well jeopardize your offer of admission. So stay out of trouble. Admitted high school seniors need to behave and keep their grades up or risk losing so much of what they’ve ever worked for.
Check out our newsletter on Senioritis.Categories: Grades, Parents Tags: Admitted High School Seniors, Admitted High School Students, College Admits, Seniors Admitted to College, Students Admitted to College
There’s a blog that’s getting some press called “The Neurotic Parent” by J.D. Rothman. We’ve written about Ms. Rothman’s amusing blog on the highly selective college admissions process before. This country need more parents like her who are able to not only recognize the craziness and ridiculousness of some parents going through the college admissions process with their children but are able to write about it in a humorous way that so many others can relate to.
Ms. Rothman writes about comments she overhears from parents (or sometimes they’re comments said directly to her) that are so outlandish. Here’s an example: “From our daughter’s school, you need to play golf or water polo to get into Stanford.” Really? You certainly don’t need to golf or play water polo to get into Stanford no matter what high school you go to. It’s possible that the water polo coach recruits annually from your child’s high school but to say that you need to play one of those two sports to get in should make Anderson Cooper’s “RidicuList.”
Here’s another comment reported by Ms. Rothman: “Harvard was a big diss because she’s not only a legacy, but someone who could absolutely do the work.” Wow. We don’t have to add any additional commentary to that! And one more: “In a four-hour period last Thursday she was shut out by four Ivies, as well as Williams and Tufts.” Yikes! Even worse that everyone is talking about it! But that’s life, unfortunately.
Bottom line: Don’t be one of these crazy parents. Don’t be the parent who obsesses openly to anyone who will listen about your daughter’s chances of getting into Princeton. It’s normal to worry about this. It’s normal to talk to your spouse about this. But there’s no reason to have to talk about it at the grocery store so all can overhear it. There’s no reason to gossip about every other child’s admissions results. Just worry about your own kid.Categories: College Admissions, Parents Tags: Crazed Parents and College Admission, Parenting and College Admission, Parents and College Admissions, Parents in College Admissions, University Admission and Parents
If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you know where we stand on the preschool admission process. It’s absolutely absurd! In Manhattan, admission to preschool is as competitive as the Duke-UNC rivalry. Parents on the Upper West Side and the Upper East Side will do anything to ensure that their two and a half year-old gets admitted to the preschool of their dreams. You read that right.
But the competitive preschool admissions process in New York City is nothing new. What is new is DNA testing for preschool admission! You read that right, too! According to the NPR piece on preschool admission, at the Portsafillo Preschool Academy, all preschool applicants now need to submit DNA at the door. And why’s that? Well, apparently the school’s headmaster, Rebecca Unsinn is a former pediatric neurologist and she believes that there are genetic markers that can predict future success.
We’re not about standing against science. There probably are genetic markers that can predict success. But the fact that this ridiculous preschool headmaster on a major power trip is requiring DNA from the 12,000 toddler applicants for 32 slots is shameful. Since Rebecca Unsinn is a neurologist, that means she went to medical school and she swore by the Hippocratic Oath. How is requiring DNA from toddlers to search for genetic markers to predict success doing no harm? How is eugenics in the best interest of humanity?
Ms. Unsinn also claims that students at her ridiculous school learn C++. That’s right. The computer language. Right. We’re sure three year-olds are coding right in between snacks of apple juice and graham crackers, that is if they’re not too busy getting their DNA evaluated to see if they’re fit to be the next President of the United States. Ms. Unsinn, we help students earn admission each and every year to the most prestigious colleges in America – from Harvard to Dartmouth to Duke and Stanford. Your preschool and you — are an utter joke to us. Shame on you and shame on Porsafillo Pre!
April Fools! You really thought this was real?! Got ya!Categories: Admissions Process, Parents Tags: Admission to Preschool, Getting Into Manhattan Preschool, NYC Preschool Admission, Preschool Admission, Preschool Admissions
Parents have a habit of embarrassing their children on college tours. Usually, they don’t intend to embarrass their children. It just happens. Even just being on the college tour can embarrass their children. It’s a fact of life. But what can parents do so as not to embarrass their children on college tours? There are a few things!
Parents should avoid prodding their children to ask questions. If a kid isn’t asking questions, chances are good that the kid doesn’t want to ask questions. Maybe she doesn’t have any questions. Maybe she’s too shy to ask. Maybe she can find out the answers online so there’s no point in asking the question. So many parents so obviously prod their child to ask a question on college tours (as well as at information sessions). They want their child to make a good impression. But really all the leader of the info session remembers is how you, the parent, embarrassed your child. Sometimes admissions officers do lead info sessions and sometimes applicants can leave an impression. But parents cannot force this. It just doesn’t work.
Parents shouldn’t ask embarrassing questions on college tours. Several years ago, one of the stars of the former ABC sudster “All My Children” was on a tour at Tufts University with his son. The actor asked how much it would cost to give the university a library. The child was mortified! How embarrassing! He quickly separated from his father and pretended he was with another family. Don’t ask how much a library would cost. And don’t ask if there’s drinking inside fraternities. Assume there is based on common sense!
Lastly, let your child form an impression of the university. Don’t form an impression for them by letting them know what you think of the school. Let them tell you what they think of it first as, otherwise, you’re priming them with information that will influence their opinion. And the school that you like may well not be the school that they like.Categories: Deciding on a College to Attend, Parents Tags: Parenting and College Admissions, Parents and College Tours, Parents and Ivy League Tours, Parents and University Tours, Parents on College Tours
There is an article in this weekend’s “Washington Post” that describes what university admissions counselors are doing in order to invite parents into the college admissions planning process. In the article, parents talk about how colleges host fairs and activities but there isn’t an activity that is targeted for parents and at the end of the day, it’s going to be the parents who are paying for their child’s college experience. And then there’s a college tour guide who talks about how he wishes parents couldn’t go on college tours because they take a whole lot of fun out of them.
But the article also discusses ways in which colleges have been catering to parents of college applicants as they do their college admissions planning. Many universities have in fact been designing college admissions planning events that are fun and informative just for them. According to the “Washington Post” article, “In this spring admission season, many colleges target parents via their Web sites, and some address financial aid letters: ‘To the parents of . . . .’ Catholic University plans to have a parents-only reception with administrators, professors and alumni this month.”
“St. Mary’s College of Maryland posts letters from parents and their e-mail addresses on its admissions Web site. And Wake Forest University hosts a ‘mock class’ for parents to pepper faculty with questions. Students have long sought to make independent choices about college. ‘Now it’s a family decision,’ said Martha Allman, dean of admissions at Wake Forest.”
Check out the “Washington Post” article on parents and college admissions planning.Admissions Process, Deciding on a College to Attend, Parents, Selecting Colleges Tags: College Admissions Parenting, College Admissions Parents, College Admissions Planning, College Visits, Planning and College Admissions
There is a great opinion piece in this month’s “The Atlantic” titled “The Ivy Delusion.” In the article, Caitlin Flanagan writes about various parenting styles of mothers and how these styles can influence the college admissions outlooks of their children. She describes different archetypes of mothers from the Amy Chuas of the world to the relaxed parents who merely want their children to live happy childhoods, even if that means not getting into an Ivy League school come their seventeenth year.
Writes Flanagan, “Elite-college admissions offices drive professional-class parents crazy because in many respects they do not operate as meritocracies. Consider, for example, those students admitted via one of the two programs that stand as strange mirror opposites: those that give preferential treatment to the sons and daughters of alumni, and those that extend it to the children of unrepresented minorities. The latter practice suggests that generations of injustice and prejudice can be redressed by admission to a fancy college, the former that generations of inclusion and privilege demand their own special prize; the two philosophies would seem to cancel one another out, but each has its place in the larger system.”
We at The Ivy Coach don’t agree with Flanagan that you have to raise your children one way if they hope to get admitted to a highly competitive university. There are many ways to raise children who will gain admission to top universities and become successful in life. Parents don’t have to force their children to take piano lessons. They don’t have to make them play chess if they don’t like it. Happy childhoods and paths toward admission to a highly competitive university are not mutually exclusive.
As Dartmouth alumnus Robert Frost wrote, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” Sometimes, the road less traveled may be the secret to both a happy childhood and admission to the college of your choice.
Check out the article in “The Atlantic” here.
Read our blog on “Helicopter Parents” .Categories: Admissions Process, Parents Tags: College Admissions Parenting, College Admissions Parents, Ivy League, Ivy League Parenting, Ivy League Parenting Styles
There is an article in today’s “NY Daily News,” the ultimate source of news that is neither interesting nor noteworthy, that focuses on a Manhattan mom who is suing the preschool her daughter attended for hurting her 4 year-old’s chances of admission to an Ivy League school because they didn’t prepare her dc (darling child) for the ERBs (the SATs for kindergarten admission). Imagine that!
The suit brought by the mother, Nicole Imprescia, claims, “At age four, [York Avenue Preschool] was still teaching [Imprescia's] daughter about shapes and colors – a two year old’s learning environment…Like many parents living in Manhattan, [Imprescia] places a priority on her child’s preschool education.” Adds Jose Martinez of the “NY Daily News,” The suit quotes from an article that identifies elite preschools as the first step for getting children into the best elementary and high schools ‘and on to the Ivy League.’”
The mother not only wants her $19,000/year tuition refunded by York Avenue Preschool but she hopes that the suit becomes a class-action one so that other toddlers who are later denied admission to elite colleges can pinpoint where it all went so terribly wrong. Not being “properly prepped for the standardized test…can mean the difference between Dalton and – gasp! – public school.
In an interview with Steve Nelson, Head of the Calhoun School in Manhattan, “Nicole Imprescia’s daughter probably won’t apply to Calhoun for kindergarten, but we wouldn’t take her anyway. It’s not because of the lawsuit. We’re just not interested in families who think prepping for standardized tests is a good way to raise a child.” Who is he kidding – of course it’s about the lawsuit! The lawsuit that’s about to follow Imprescia’s daughter throughout her elementary and high school years…and maybe even to the attention of Ivy League admissions officers years down the road…Categories: Applying to Prep Schools, Other Tidbits, Parents Tags: College Admissions, Ivy League, Preschool and College, Preschool and College Admission, Preschool to Ivy League