Thursday, January 12, 2012

College Admissions - a PSA for parents

First, I want to start with a disclaimer that I do not have children. Nor do I plan to have children in the foreseeable future. However, I have contact with parents of prospective students/applicants on a daily basis, so this blog post is written from the perspective of a college admission professional who interacts with A LOT of parents.

So, I give you the following small piece of advice specifically for parents of prospective students and college applicants!

Let your child do the talking.

I mean this in every possible situation - on a tour, on the phone, in an interview, at a college fair, everywhere. Your child won't learn how to interact with an admission counselor, tour guide, professor, secretary or any other person if you never give them the chance to try. I feel that there are very few reasons that a parent of a student should be calling our office - it should almost always be the student! The same goes for e-mail communication - if the student has a question, wants to set up an interview or needs to check on the status of their application, they need to be the one making the call or sending the e-mail.

I've heard every excuse in the book for this one - the most common one being "my student is busy and doesn't have time to call!" Unfortunately, this excuse doesn't hold water with me - I've had students call from their school guidance office during their free period, call before practice, even e-mail me to set up a phone call in the evening after they are finished with their commitments so that they can take care of whatever they need to. I'm willing to go the extra mile for any of our applicants if they are willing to go the extra mile for me.

I imagine that it must be difficult as a parent to watch your student struggle, feel uncomfortable, be stressed, or set themselves up for what you perceive to be a bad decision. But I believe that the only way your student will learn is to do all of those things - and since most students applying to college are legally allowed to gamble, purchase cigarettes and serve our country, I think that they must take this process into their own hands. They are the ones who will be on campus for 4 years, not you. They are the ones who will have to live with the consequences of choosing a school that isn't a good fit, or will have to settle on their safety school because they didn't get their documents in on time. I believe that it is all part of the process, and maybe it's a time for everyone, parents and students, to take a step forward in letting go and growing up.

Plus, here at St. Mike's, we put every communication that we've had with a student or their parents in their file and it all gets reviewed during the admission process. So it's up to you and your student - would you rather we see a mature, conscientious applicant who serves as their own advocate or 10 e-mails from mom? I know which is more impressive to me as I evaluate students for admission to a college where they will spend the next 4 years of their life being a mature, conscientious adult who serves as their own advocate.

What's your opinion?

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