Seminar Date: Thursday November 4, 2010

We were at Pali High this week to talk about college application pressure and related family stress. Jesse Engdahl, a counselor at Of One Mind, and Director of The Educational Resource Center, covered a variety of issues. A few points:

This is not a “one size fits all” process. It is best to gather information and then make it fit for your own family. This applies to goals, financial concerns, and family priorities.

Start a “lite” conversation early, then allow some time for it to be processed. If it feels appropriate, schedule an early preliminary meeting with a college counselor to plant the seeds for further consideration. This can be done in 9th or 10th grade. College counselors can start your child thinking about who they are, how they want to present themselves, and where they might want to go in very broad terms.

Early visits to a small, medium and large school can provide some clarity for students. Sample a rural and urban setting. This can be done locally to give your child some idea of the general feel of a campus. Some kids love a city school like USC, and some kids want the community that a school with a strong central campus offers. Distance can be a factor as well, such as a school in a location that has direct flights. The cost of traveling to and from school for family visits and holidays should be factored in.

Organizationally we recommend that you set up a gmail account in the student’s name and use that for all college related business only. Set a simple password to be shared by the student, the parents and the school counselor. Use the same name and password for your College Board account. This will centralize all college email.

If you use a computer, you can open a new folder on your desktop. Within that folder have secondary files for: 1) personal information like previous schools, important dates, social security number and personal stats, 2) a resume; keeping track of sports and activities like music or art, summer jobs, even babysitting counts, references, special accomplishments and awards, community service and anything else that you would like on a resume. 3) the list of schools with addresses you are interested in, 4) essay prompts, outlines and eventually essays, 5) misc; this could be any tidbits of information you find interesting that you want to keep handy or remember. Do this early and you will be glad to have this done once your child starts doing the applications.

Encourage your child to use google docs to save their essays, or email themselves their work on a regular basis. This will allow them to access their work from anywhere such as school, the library, or a friend’s house.