Senior Parents Share College Search Advice

By Andrea Goodman, 10rep@hunterpta.org

On May 20, continuing the Hunter tradition of handing down acquired wisdom about the college application process, a panel of senior parents spoke to parents of rising seniors and juniors prior to the regular PTA meeting. Moderator Ann Hohenhaus asked parents to address specific issues through their families’ experiences. This article will share some of their stories. 

We extend a heart-felt thank you to those parents who sat on the panel and participated. Congratulations to all of you and to your graduates! (To find out more about college decisions by the Class of 2015, read this article and attachments from Hilites.)

For those of you who were not there or who want to review what was discussed, here are some of the issues that the panel addressed:

The College Essays

How did your child choose the topics for the Common Application essays? What qualities should the Common Application essays have?

Parents were in agreement that the essay topics should focus on issues that are meaningful to their children. Students should choose issues about which they are passionate. Many parents said that their children were reluctant to show their essays to them as they felt too personal. One parent emphasized that there should be one adult in students lives with whom they can share their essays.

On supplemental essays

“Why this school?” Many schools have an essay that is specific to their school and usually centers around why the student wants to attend their school. Students should be able to answer this question. One parent felt strongly that if your child has trouble with this question then it may not be the right school for them.

All parents agreed that the summer before senior year is an excellent time to investigate essay topics and engage in writing them.

College List

How did your child compile a list of schools? How did you, as a parent, help to narrow down a list?

Parents agreed that some criteria are substantive while others are superficial. Naviance is a helpful tool for students and parents. (If you have any questions about Naviance, please contact your counselor.)

Do not underestimate the importance of a college visit. Do “miles matter?” Would your child be better off close to home? Is it important to your child or your family to easily go back and forth? Know your child!

Suggestions For A Student Who Has Great Standardized Test Scores But Less Than Stellar Grades

Parents felt that perhaps this where the interview is important. Students can make an effort to discuss their high school experience and give a sense of who they are as individuals. Parents felt that smaller schools may be more invested in interviews. 

How Did You Discuss The Financial Aspect Of College Life With Your Child?

Financial aid can be a long process and parents suggested starting early. Also, parents suggested researching schools as some schools offer money. The parents who responded to this question all felt that it is very important to be honest with your child but to not burden them with too much information.

On Early Applications

Explore the pros and cons of early decision and learn about the differences between early decision (ED), early action (EA), early decision 2 ED2) and rolling admission.

Some parents felt that ED put too much pressure on their child to make a decision before they were ready. Others felt that it was a great option.

Some parents shared that if your child needed to show more or better grades it was in their best interest to apply regular decision.

On Standardized Testing

Parents suggested looking at the College Board and ACT websites and get a sense of when the tests are administered. They are offered at many times and students should strategize testing times. Register early as many testing sites fill up quickly.

Pay attention to SAT II (subject tests). Some schools recommend or require 2-3.

In Summary

Try and minimize the stress for your child and for your family. Visit as many schools as you can and try to enjoy the trips. It is a great time to get to know your child and spend some time with them. Make sure that your child would be happy to attend all of the schools on her or his list, including the “safety school.”