How to Help Your Parents Help You with College Admissions
By Thomas Broderick
The early 1990s were an exciting time. America had won the Cold War. Trappers Keepers were the bane of elementary school teachers around the country. (Teachers hated them because of the noisy velcro.) And on the news, reporters were talking about a newfangled technology called the Internet.
Why am I waxing on about part of a decade that I was too young to remember? It’s to get across the fact that a lot has changed since the days when airports and hotels were full of payphones. And your parents, who probably went to college in the early 90s, aren’t up to speed on how the college application process has evolved since then.
In this article, we’ll examine how you can help your parents help you. That phrase may seem a bit contradictory (or just confusing), but let me convince that if you invest a little time educating your parents about how applying to college works in 2018, they will become fully prepared to help you gain admission to your dream college.
You ever know someone who had good intentions but made things worse because they didn’t know what they were doing? If you don’t educate your parents about modern college admissions, you and they may fall into the same trap. Also, since they’re family, your relationships might become strained as a result.
There’s a lot of risks involved keeping your parents in the dark. Let’s change that. The sooner you get started, the sooner your parents will be able to bring their skills to the table knowledgeably and productively.
What to Bring Up
The path to college has changed a lot in the last 25 years. Going over everything with your parents would take forever, so at a minimum, hit the following high notes when you talk to them.
Acceptance Rates Have Plummeted
When your parents applied to college, there were plenty of colleges and universities that were difficult to get into. Back then the Ivy League was closed off to all but the super smart or well connected.
In 2018, getting into any one of the top 75 colleges/universities is just as tricky as it was to get into the Ivy League 25 years ago. And with more high school seniors reaching for those top colleges every year, the odds of getting in are ever dwindling. When I graduated Vanderbilt in 2008, it was a running joke that no one in the class of 2008 would have been accepted for the class of 2012.
How do you get this point across to your parents? Show them the admissions data from their colleges since they graduated. Even if they attended a public college or university, you would still discover the trend I described in the previous paragraph.
Tuition Has Skyrocketed
If your parents went to a private college, they should know from experience that college can be pricey. Even so, tuition just about everywhere has gone through the roof. Like with acceptance rates, convey this information to your parents through a few relevant examples. If you haven’t already, now would be a great time to discuss just how much financial support your parents are willing to give you when you go to college.
(Just About) Everything’s Done Online
When I applied to college in the fall of 2003, about 50% of everything I submitted was done online. Today it’s approaching 100%. Don’t be surprised if some colleges ask for digital copies of your transcripts.
Once you have finished your college list, tell your parents how the application process works for each school. This way they will better understand and be able to help you throughout the process. Making them members of your myKlovr support team doesn’t hurt either. 😉
Standardized Test Scores Ain’t What They Used to Be
Your parents took the SAT/ACT when they were high school students. Yes, the tests have changed in the last 25 years, but not so much that your parents couldn’t recognize the modern versions. Also, your parents may even be able to help you prepare for the Reading or English sections. I wouldn’t count on Math, though. Everybody forgets high school Math.
The biggest change your parents should recognize is that the way college admissions counselors view these tests has changed significantly over the past 25 years. Back then, an impressive SAT/ACT score was a golden ticket to admissions success. Since then, the growing number of applicants along with the ballooning test-prep industry has made the value of a perfect or near-perfect score fall faster than a meteor falling to Earth.
What does this mean for you and your parents? The main point you need to get across to them is that yes, SAT/ACT scores still matter, but their importance has shrunk A LOT in the past quarter-century. Stress that college admissions counselors, especially those at the most competitive schools, want to see well-rounded candidates who excel in the academic, extracurricular, and community realms.
So you’ve caught your parents up to speed, and they’re still willing to help out. That’s great! Here are a few crucial ways they can assist you throughout the process:
- Buying organizational materials such as folders or organizational apps for your phone/computer.
- Proofreading college essays or investing in Grammarly (or a similar app).
- Hiring a standardized test or subject-specific tutor.
- Researching scholarship opportunities.
- Teaching you financial planning tips to budget for college expenses.
A little knowledge goes a long way. For you, imparting a little knowledge to your parents about the modern college admissions experience can go a long way to help you get into your dream college. Along with your parents, be sure to invite other trusted adults to your myKlovr support team. Over the following months (or years if you’re still a high school underclassman), use these adults as valuable resources.
Last, but certainly not least, happy beginning of summer break! 🙂