A Financial Checklist for Your Newly Minted High School Graduate
We’ve got budget, retirement account, credit, information security and insurance advice for your independent adult, college student, gap-year taker or future soldier.
The summer after high school graduation inevitably includes monthslong encounters with various to-do lists., Extra-long-sheet purchases and milk crates for future collegians. A résumé for job seekers. Thank-you notes for all.
But let me suggest one more itemized offering: a list of financial tasks. If you want to set your child up properly for college, work, military service and the years beyond, there are several things you ought to do, help them do or teach them before too long.
Got a younger teenager? No time like the present to get started with a lot of this. Is one of your children already in college? You probably haven’t done all of these things yet.
I'm sure you've been reading the news about people found cheating to gain college admissions by faking test scores and fictitious participation in sports (among other things.) I wasn't going to address this, because I feel very secure in my practice: working with my clients to communicate their unique academic and extracurricular talents and interests in a legitimate way to find the best fit for them in college.
However, you should know that my profession is guided by a code of ethics and professional practices that strive to make sure all students are treated equally throughout the admissions process. I belong to the National Association for College & Admission Counseling (NACAC,) the Pacific Northwest Association for College & Admission Counseling (PNACAC) and the Portland Area Consortium of College Counselors (PACC,) and I adhere to their standards.
I'm happy that the individuals charged to date have not...
My son, a high school senior, shares a roof with a father who also happens to be the dean of admission at a selective college. As a former teenager myself, I know how tough it can be sometimes to follow your parents’ advice, which is why I accepted the invitation last month to offer college application essay-writing workshops to six senior English classes at Appleton North.
My son would be in one of those classes, which meant that I’d have his undivided attention—or at least his inability to leave the room—for 48 whole minutes so I could tell him all the things I wanted him to know about conceiving and crafting his college essay, something that the dad in me knew would be a tougher task at home.
Just thinking about it made me twirl my imaginary waxy villain handlebar mustache (mwah-ha-ha).
The workshops went off without a hitch. I shared a handful of what I thought were helpful nuggets about how to write a successful college application essay. Nobody fell asleep. Mission accomplished.
Is visiting college campuses an essential part of the college search or a waste of time?
That question was raised in a recent “Living With Children” column  by John Rosemond, the family psychologist, syndicated columnist and host of a radio show on parenting with the apt name Because I Said So!
Rosemond’s column was a response to the parents of a 17-year-old high school junior who wants to begin visiting colleges. They believe there’s no value to visiting, arguing, “We fail to understand how walking through buildings that all begin to look the same after a while and hearing a sales pitch from someone whose job depends on persuading an impressionable teen that the college he works for is a perfect fit for a teen he doesn’t know is going to result in said teen making a rational decision.”
The parents also admit that they feel guilt because their friends think they are neglecting their duties as parents.
So they reached out to Rosemond for advice. The college counselor in me...
Hall College Consulting recommends testing during Junior year, taking either the SAT or ACT once in the Winter/early Spring, and a second sitting in late Spring (May/June.) Some students opt to take both the SAT and ACT in the middle of Junior year, then choose whichever test they feel most comfortable with for a second sitting. There are a few colleges still recommending or requiring SAT Subject Tests, and we can work on timing for those on an individual basis.
Test prep can comprise individual study, tutoring, camps or classes, depending on how self-motivated a student is. Students who use online test prep resources can be just as prepared as those accessing test prep services; however, only if the student is dedicated to the prep. Local test prep tutors are great and accessible, and I can provide references..
Most of my clients finish testing in June of their Junior year, freeing up their summer for applications and essays, with the goal of managing applic...
Parents are important partners in the college search process, so I wish more parents would ask what they should do during a campus visit. I suspect there is a lack of opportunity during the layered steps of the college search.
Believe me, as an admissions professional I want to establish a good relationship with parents. But it’s hard to find the right balance. Not many colleges help parents understand their role and very few of the publications I’ve seen address parents.
So, parents, since your role is so important, here are a few suggestions for ways to keep your student’s best interests at the forefront during a campus visit:
Leave the younger kids at home — Many families think it’s good experience for younger children to visit colleges along with the student going through the college search. I understand the reasoning behind this, but I urge some caution and recommend that parents keep the focus on the student engaged in the college search. Make the visit about them — their questions,...
The glorification of leadership skills, especially in college
admissions, has emptied leadership of its meaning.
In 1934, a young woman named Sara Pollard applied to Vassar College. In those days, parents were asked to fill out a questionnaire, and Sara’s father described her, truthfully, as “more a follower type than a leader.”
The school accepted Sara, explaining that it had enough leaders.
It’s hard to imagine this happening today. No father in his right mind (if the admissions office happened to ask him!) would admit that his child was a natural follower; few colleges would welcome one with open arms. Today we prize leadership skills above all, and nowhere more than in college admissions. As Penny Bach Evins, the head of St. Paul’s School for Girls, an independent school in Maryland, told me, “It seems as if higher ed is looking for alphas, but the doers and thinkers in our schools are not always in front leading.”
Harvard’s application informs students that its mission is “to educate...
“The college invasion.” This is how my high school seniors describe the scene on our campus each fall. Admission visitors—like extraterrestrials—arrive in their rental cars with big smiles and stories of bright new worlds. Their message is always the same—“take me to your leaders.”
College admission officers spend weeks on end traveling the world, recruiting tomorrow’s leaders. But what exactly are they searching for? How do they define a leader? Who will they choose to take back with them? What qualities will these individuals embody? How will they be identified, wooed and culled? These are the questions silently percolating in young minds as they listen to these visitors describe fascinating futures filled with exploration and engagement.
Leadership—few other words have such power to instill angst in college applicants. Perceived as a referendum on one’s strengths as person and admission candidate, assuming the “lead” is coveted as a prerequisite to college success. Books have been wri...
Holiday decorations have been put away, you're trying to keep up with your New Year's resolutions, and that fruitcake has been re-gifted. It's time to think about gearing up for the college process with your high school junior! When I first started college counseling, I assumed it was mostly a matter of matching students to colleges, with parents playing a primary but mostly supportive role. Coming from the college side of admission, which was usually remote from family dynamics, I had yet to see that the process exerts its influence on nearly every aspect of family life, often stressing hidden fault lines.
Over the years, I've had parents demand that their student apply to their alma maters despite his or her own preferences; divorced parents nearly coming to blows over their child's college choices (with him in the room); parents in tears because their child didn't get into a favored institution; parents clueless about their children's interests or goals; parents refusing to pay excep...