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Tips for parents who don't have a clue

eyebeg2differeyebeg2differ Registered User Posts: 334 Member
edited June 2008 in Parents Forum
Hello all! I wanted to start a thread in order to gather helpful tips, advice, life lessons, etc for all the parents who are going to begin their college quest with their children. I'm going to be a first generation college student in my family, and since my parents aren't on this forum, I thought I could collect what you all tell me and educate them about what they need to know. So, any advice you deem necessary for applying to college, or even college in general, please share!!


Thank you to the parents especially who have helped me so much already!

:)
Post edited by eyebeg2differ on
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Replies to: Tips for parents who don't have a clue

  • ADadADad Registered User Posts: 4,921 Senior Member
    Apply in September to a rolling admissions school that you would be happy to attend if necessary.

    It is great to have a good acceptance in October/November.
  • NewHope33NewHope33 Registered User Posts: 6,208 Senior Member
    Eye - In life, if one isn't competent in a given area, one gets assistance from individuals who are expert in the field. Expecting clueless parents to become knowlegeable in a month or two is probably poor strategy.
  • ellemenopeellemenope Registered User Posts: 11,380 Senior Member
    Here's some advice that first gen parents may not know:

    Just because your kid gets all A's in high school, it does not mean that he is a shoo-in at any super-selective school in the US (think Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, etc.).

    Just because your kid gets all A's in high school, it does not mean that he will get scholarships to pay his way through every college that accepts him.
  • eyebeg2differeyebeg2differ Registered User Posts: 334 Member
    Newhope, I'm aware of that, however, experienced parents sharing helpful advice is not going to harm anyone; I'd like to help my parents as well as others who aren't so familiar with the college application scene. Thank you for your insight, though.
  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse Registered User Posts: 28,089 Senior Member
    The first thing you and your parents should discuss is the financing of college. The cost of your state colleges if you live on campus and the costs if you should commute. The cost of private schools, particularly any that you are eying. You should ask them to pull out their 2007 tax returns and go through a sample FAFSA to see where you stand in terms of expected family contribution, EFC which will determine your eligibility for government money, namely the Pell grant and subsidized Stafford. Then a sample PROFILE if you are applying to private schools to see what they will expect your family to pay. This along with what your parents can pay will determine the types of colleges you should be seeking.

    Then get some feedback from them on what they may have in mind. If they don't have anything specific, good for you. You can seek schools together. Many first generation parents have only heard of the very top schools, and if they have a child who is a good student, they assume that that is where he will go, replete with scholarships. It is often a pretty big shock to learn otherwise.

    My suggestion to kids and families is to look for a good school that you like that has what you want and is likely to take you. One that you and your family can afford. That is your safety. That is the most difficult school to find. It is so fun to roll the name of the big guys off your tongue, the HPYSM, and schools that everyone knows, but finding the school that will certainly take you and that you will like is the hard part. With that in place, you can then work your way up to the reaches, looking for those features you like best in your safety and match schools.
  • frazzled1frazzled1 Registered User Posts: 5,784 Senior Member
    Excellent advice already. I suggest determining your important deadlines (for testing, obtaining recommendations, filing the FAFSA/profile, etc.) and making up a spreadsheet or calendar to keep track of them, and sharing them with your parents. Then they can periodically remind you when a deadline is imminent. Two or three sets of eyes are way better than one when deadlines are so important.

    And how about suggesting that they join us on the CC parents board? It's one of the best resources there is, especially for folks who are completely unfamilar with the process.
  • tetrisfantetrisfan Registered User Posts: 11,791 Senior Member
    Build your list from the bottom. It's easy to find many reaches, but it's no piece of cake to find a safety that you truly love.
  • mathmommathmom Registered User Posts: 32,071 Senior Member
    Include both academic and financial safeties. Sometimes finances change between October and April.
  • my-3-sonsmy-3-sons Registered User Posts: 2,947 Senior Member
    Every school on a student's list should be a place they would be happy to attend. Nothing bothers me more on these boards than to see a list of 7 top 20 schools and "State U" with a statement "but I don't want to go there". Safety school does not have to equal your State U unless you really like it. There are plenty of wonderful tier 2 &3 schools that provide great educational experiences for all level of students and big merit $ for top students, you just have to look harder to identify the ones for you. Keep an open mind and look beyond the rankings.
  • Muffy333Muffy333 Registered User Posts: 2,108 Senior Member
    Eye, it looks like you are the one in charge of your college search and not your parents, which is great.

    The only thing your parents really need to be very involved in is cost; like cptofthehouse says, have a frank discussion about how much they can or will pay for college. Don't assume all colleges will give you financial aid or that all financial aid will be in grants, not loans.
  • franglishfranglish Registered User Posts: 2,308 Senior Member
    I teach in a HS and I have copied, below, the calendar that our GC gave all the juniors at the beginning of last year. I have edited out any identifying details, but have left in all the particulars. Maybe your schools does some similar stuff, as far as college fairs and meetings with your counselors. Anyway, you can see the recommended testing. Be aware, though, that this calendar was for students who are now going to be seniors in HS, so the dates will be a little bit off:

    11th Grade College Counseling Timeline: Class of 2009
    The grades you receive in 11th grade are very important for your college applications.
    Keep that in mind and get off to a good start this year!
    Sept. - Nov. College admissions representatives will be visiting throughout the fall—
    check the schedule regularly for dates and times! You may attend only if you are free at that time.
    10/4 “Financial Planning for College” Meeting – All interested parents & students, gr. 8-12
    10/17 All 11th grade students take the PSAT. The exam will be given in the morning.
    This test is for information and scholarship purposes only—the results are not sent to colleges.
    11/27 College Planning Meeting – 11th grade students and their families—6:30 pm.
    An overview of the college counseling program, and the application/testing process.
    There will be time for Q & A.
    December PSAT scores arrive sometime this month—a good opportunity to consider how you will
    prepare for the SAT/ACT!
    12/26 Registration Deadline* for the January 26 SAT I or SAT II
    Consider taking one of these exams on this date!
    1/4 Late registration date for the January 26 SAT I or SAT II (additional fee)
    1/8 Panel of Alumni: current college students talk to 11th graders about their college experiences,
    and answer questions. 11:45.
    1/26 TEST DATE - SAT I or SAT II
    1/29 Registration Deadline* for the 3/1 SAT I (SAT II is not offered on this date)
    Jan. - May 11th graders and their families should schedule individual meetings
    February Now is the time to start making plans for an interesting, challenging, productive summer!
    2/2 JUNIOR COLLEGE DAY for students (mandatory) & parents
    2/7 Late registration date for the 3/1 SAT I (additional fee)
    3/1 TEST DATE - SAT I
    3/7 Registration Deadline** for the 4/12 ACT
    3/15 - 3/30 Spring Break is a great time to start visiting colleges.
    Call ahead to schedule tours, interviews, class visits and overnight stays.
    3/21 Late registration deadline for the 4/12 ACT (additional fee)
    4/1 Registration Deadline* for the 5/3 SAT I or SAT II
    4/10 Late registration deadline for the 5/3 SAT I or SAT II (additional fee)
    4/12 TEST DATE – ACT
    5/3 TEST DATE - SAT I or SAT II
    5/5 - 5/16 AP Exams given at BFS
    5/6 Registration Deadline* for the 6/7 SAT I or SAT II
    5/9 Registration Deadline** for the 6/14 ACT
    5/15 Late registration date for the 6/7 SAT I or SAT II (additional fee)
    5/16 Deadline for submitting names of TWO teachers writing your recommendation letters to College
    Counseling Office & giving your teachers the official Teacher Recommendation Request form
    5/23 Late registration deadline for the 6/14 ACT (additional fee)
    6/7 TEST DATE - SAT I or SAT II
    6/14 TEST DATE - ACT
    Summer Have a great time, do something interesting, and don’t forget to work on your college essays!
    * To register for the SAT I/II, go to :: College Planning Made Easy | Inside Source for College Admissions Requirements
    ** To register for the ACT, go to ACT, Inc. : A Student Site for ACT Test Takers
  • franglishfranglish Registered User Posts: 2,308 Senior Member
    Here is the calendar for the senior class, who just graduated. Again, the dates will not be right for current seniors:

    College Counseling Timeline & Deadlines: Class of 2008
    September
    Mon. 9/10 Registration Deadline for the 10/6 SAT I or SAT II
    Tue. 9/11 Meeting for Senior Parents (and Students) – 6:30 pm
    Fri. 9/14 Late registration deadline for the 10/6 SAT I or SAT II (additional fee)
    Fri. 9/14 Deadline for giving the names of two academic subject teachers who have agreed to write your
    recommendation letters. **NOTE** Envelopes and forms should be submitted to the CC office.
    DO NOT give recommendation forms directly to teachers.
    Sat. 9/15 TEST DATE – ACT
    Fri. 9/21 Registration Deadline for the 10/27 ACT
    All month College admissions representatives will be visiting —check the calendar regularly for dates and times!
    All month Call colleges to schedule tours, interviews, class visits and overnight stays
    All month Turn in applications, resumes, and personal essays for review and comments
    October
    Tue. 10/2 Registration Deadline for the 11/3 SAT I or SAT II
    Fri. 10/5 Late registration deadline for the 10/27 ACT (additional fee)
    Sat. 10/6 TEST DATE - SAT I or SAT II
    10/6-10/9 Long weekends are a great time to visit colleges—call ahead to schedule tours, class visits & overnight stays!
    Wed. 10/10 Meeting: Applying for Financial Aid – All interested seniors & families. 6:30 pm
    Thu. 10/11 Late registration deadline for the 11/3 SAT I or SAT II (additional fee)
    Fri. 10/12 Deadline if you plan to apply ED or EA to any colleges
    Fri. 10/19 Last chance to turn in ED/EA applications, resumes, and personal essays for review and comments
    Sat. 10/27 TEST DATE - ACT
    Tue. 10/30 Registration Deadline for the 12/1 SAT I or SAT II
    All month College admissions representatives will be visiting —check the schedule regularly for dates and times!
    All month Turn in applications, resumes, and personal essays for review and comments
    All month Parents and students may complete the online CSS Profile financial aid form (if applicable)
    All month Call colleges to schedule tours, interviews, class visits and overnight stays
    November
    Thu. 11/1 ED/EA applicants needing financial aid should submit 2006 FAFSA & other required documents ASAP
    Fri. 11/2 Registration Deadline for the December 8 ACT
    Sat. 11/3 TEST DATE - SAT I or SAT II
    Thu. 11/8 Late registration deadline for the December 1 SAT I or SAT II (additional fee)
    Fri. 11/15 Late registration deadline for the December 8 ACT (additional fee)
    11/2125 Thanksgiving Break is a good time to work on college applications!
    All month Turn in applications, resumes, and personal essays for review and comments
    December
    Sat. 12/1 TEST DATE - SAT I or SAT II
    Sat. 11/8 TEST DATE - ACT
    Mon. 12/10 Deadline to submit your finalized college list to CC Office
    Deadline to turn in applications, resumes, and essays for review & comments and
    Deadline to submit materials to CC office for inclusion in application packages
    Sat. 12/15 Results of Early Action/Decision applications (approx. date)
    Thu. 12/20 Transcripts, recommendation letters and other materials have been mailed to colleges by CC Office
    January
    Tues. 1/1 Families may now file their 2007 FAFSA
    April
    Tues. 4/1 Most colleges notify applicants on or around April 1.
    All month April is the time to visit the colleges that have accepted you, and do some serious thinking.
    Many colleges will host special events for admitted students.
    May
    Thu. 5/1 Deadline to accept an offer of admission and submit a deposit at the college of your choice!
    Waitlisted candidates may begin to hear news around mid to late May
  • laurstar07laurstar07 Registered User Posts: 1,053 Senior Member
    just because you get straight As all throughout high school doesnt mean that you will get straight As in college

    if you are okay financially, apply somewhere early, especially if it is your first choice all around. there is so much relief to find out if you were accepted in december...and also gives you time to focus your attention to other schools if the decision isnt so promising.

    even if your student insists that they do everything by themselves, at least compromise and say that you want to read over their essays. they may respond "but its private!"...it really isnt. admissions officers are going to read them. proofreading allows for simple (or complex) mistakes to be found and corrected. with the ability to "recycle" essays, its easy to forget to change the name of the school at the top. you always hear of those horror stories with students applying to school y and saying "i want to be accepted to school x because..." it happens to the best and brightest students.

    dont apply to a school based on name recognition.

    DONT WAIT UNTIL DECEMBER 31ST AT 11 PM TO START YOUR APPLICATION!!! give yourself at least 2 months to do your applications (even if you dont send them in right away). start them in september while the school workload is relatively low.

    that being said, spend the summer BEFORE senior year really finalizing your college list. keep in mind that minor changes may be made if you decide on retaking an ACT/SAT in the fall.

    there is no point in retaking a 35/2300. work on other aspects of your application instead of obsessing over getting a perfect score. NOT WORTH IT!

    apply to a school with the major THAT YOU WANT! dont pick something like "classical roman ancient societies" just to make yourself look "unique" or you heard that it is easier to get into a school with that major. pick something that you are really passionate about...colleges can see through the bs when you try to justify that you want some odd ball major when you actually dont. so you want biology or psychology? then go for it!

    applying to 15+ schools is a waste of time and money. keep the number between 5-10.

    before you start making your list, create criteria with your student. how far is your s/d allowed to go? what is the limit for the cost of school? ideal size of the school? basically, ask yourself what are you looking for in a school, and go from there.

    it helps to talk to someone in the field that you want to go into. want to be a podiatrist but dont know anyone personally? go through the yellow pages, pick an office, and ask if they have time to talk to you/answer your questions. maybe see if you can shadow them for a day. doing this will allow you to really see if thats what you want to do for the rest of your life. try to do this before you apply to schools/create your list.

    thats it for now...good luck!
  • Jolynne SmythJolynne Smyth Registered User Posts: 2,714 Senior Member
    Great advice for the OP!

    I'm wondering why "applying to 15+ schools is a waste of time and money. keep the number between 5-10." If you put in a number of reaches, and schools vary on how they weight the SAT/ACT in relation to grades, etc., it doesn't seem like it could be a disadvantage to apply to 15 or so schools..
  • laurstar07laurstar07 Registered User Posts: 1,053 Senior Member
    ^because *usually* you can narrow the list down to the 5-10 schools which are best for you. i know someone who applied to 22 and only got into 4 because most of his schools were complete reaches. if you got a 2000, but the school is reporting between 2100-2300...why waste the money on the application fee just to "see what happens". plus, you gotta honestly ask yourself, if school x was the only school i got into...would i REALLY want to go there? its not worth it just to put it down and invest no energy or enthusiasm. and still, its really unfair to "take" someone's spot if they really wanted to go and you just put it on your list just because.

    and schools do look at more than just gpa+sat (maybe they just focus on that for the initial accept/reject piles, but once the decisions become more finalized they look at the whole picture)

    and with 15+ schools, you are easily looking at over $1000-$1500 in application fees. its better to invest that saved money to funding the college you are actually going to. keep in mind that most applications range between $40-$70, with the "top" schools having the most expensive fees. a lot of students and parents forget about factoring the financial application commitment when they are all wrapped up in the process.
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