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Applying to College
Questions about Application
First, an advice question -- do we need a college counselor for a student with high SATs and good grades, some activities, and a learning difference. The student attends a large, public school. Second, if we do need a counselor, do you have recommendations for a counselor that would get the needs of a very intellectual, not very competitive, and not interested in leadership kind of a student. When we've gone to a number of college presentations there's been lots of talk about leadership which our student isn't interested in. We saw one private counselor who seemed to be providing generic advice. Since it is the fall of senior year, we'd need someone who could work quickly with our child, and help them with some of the decision making. We'd be particularly interested in counselors familiar with the needs of high-achieving students with learning differences. anon
HELP! My daughter is finishing her junior year in high school. Everyone I know has hired a private tutor/counselor to prepare for college applications, personal statement, SAT and ACT tests, lists of colleges, and so on. Does everyone actually do this? Can she apply and get into college without this assistance?
Worried that I am completely doing my daughter a disservice by not doing the same, I called a well-known college counselor in the area and was soooo turned off. First, I was scolded for waiting so long! ''It's too late!'' Then, I was told that despite the fact that my daughter has a 4.3 GPA, she will not get into any tier 1 schools because she does not have high enough SAT scores (they are high, but not perfect). My daughter has played varsity sports since freshman year, has created a new school club, and studied abroad for one year (and learned a foreign language fluently in the process). Still, I felt almost mocked at how woefully unprepared my daughter is for college. Basically, by the end of the conversation, I was so disillusioned and dismayed that I cannot fathom actually taking my child to see someone who is filled with so much doom and dread and negative comments.
So, families, is the whole college application process so out of our league that we need a hired professional to guide us? What do all the kids who cannot afford this service do? If you have found help out there, what does it look like? What is worth the price and what isn't? Out of my league
We didn't do any of the paid prep. Just went with my daughter's GPA and SAT scores, which were acceptable. Everyone survived. College is now over. My daughter enjoyed her time at UCSC and is now out working and living her life.
You don't need anyone's help to do college applications, essays, etc. The panic I've seen over this at BPN and another forum I'm on just blows my mind. Your daughter has great grades, high SAT scores, and lots of extra curriculars. If you have the money and interest to pay people to help with these things, that's fine. But if you don't, then go online and read articles about how to approach college essays, support your daughter while she works on them (this summer is a good time), and help her by reviewing her applications for completeness and accuracy. I'm sure she'll do fine. This does not have to be a big, complicated, expensive deal.
Help your daughter stay focused on what matters to her. Are there particular schools, degrees or geographic areas she's interested in? Reassure her that there are many, many good schools out there, and wherever she goes she's going to have good and bad times, make friends and learn things. And then she'll move on through life and those college memories will fade in the distance. The best gift you can give her is a good dose of perspective. Let everyone else have their freakouts and spend a ton of money on prep. You do not need to. a realist with a happy, relaxed daughter
The Berkeley YMCA teen center also has various college readiness/SAT prep programs.
We did see a private counselor a couple of times, but the one at school seemed much more on top of things for students like my daughter, and for families at a moderate (by college standards) income. The private counselors don't seem like a good value unless you have an unusual situation like a child with bad grades/good SATs and you have money for tuition at private universities without relying on scholarships.
My daughter did well on the PSATs and really didn't have time to study for the SATs. So our plan was to see what the score was, and sign her up for a class/find a tutor if the score wasn't high enough for the schools she'd like to attend. We did find out from the school counselor that what you need for some of those very competitive private universities is an extremely high score. The Fiske Guide is a good place to start because you can see the 25th-75th percentile range of scores for the colleges she'd like.
I also teach, and students with grades like your daughter's (I'm assuming around a 3.8 unweighted) and some activities pretty much all end up in UCs or other good universities. anon
As far as getting through the process: the essays were the part that my son really sweated over. I worried endlessly that the pressure would be too much for him, and certainly thought about hiring a coach -- but he did well. Actually, I think he surprised himself at the end; after weeks of agonizing, everything was done and it was wonderful.
As a matter of fact, his counselor at school was one of his biggest obstacles. She spent all their time together telling him that he couldn't realistically expect to succeed, that every place he liked was ''a long shot'', and so on. She annoyed me, and infuriated him, with her attitude; it was a lot like the experience you described in your post. The whole process would have been a lot more pleasant without her as a part of it. If that's the sort of person that you're finding when you think about hiring someone, just skip it. Your daughter doesn't need it, and things are stressful enough for both of you. She'll find her perfect place, and they'll be so grateful to have her. Really. Kathleen
If she needs someone to prepare all that stuff to get into college, what will she do when she is in college? It should be up to her entirely, parents need to stay out if except when it comes to affordability. Third child off to college
Admission to the most competitive colleges has definitely become much more difficult, and despite a high GPA there is no guarantee for any student. So make sure your daughter applies to a number of colleges (10? 12?), including some with easier admission standards (see what percentage of applicants are admitted and that will give you an idea of the school's ''selectivity''). Then have her work hard on putting together her essay and application so they reflect her strengths, and have her take advantage of whatever help her high school has with readers who can review her college essays. Help her to be realistic about her chances but willing to show her best side. Good luck! Anonymous
My niece applied to college without a counselor and was admitted to Princeton. At graduation, she was not sure if the experience matched all the hype. BTW, she graduated with highest honors in Astro Physics. So tier one schools are not always the best match. My nephew, who did get a perfect score on the SAT, went to Harvard, the wrong school for this brilliant individual who was also shy and very intellectual. He would have enjoyed Reed much more than Harvard. So, breathe about the idea of ''tier one'' schools. Look for a school that is a match for your daughter. anonymous
Also, for parents who can't afford to hire consultants, I don't know about other schools, but Berkeley High has numerous essay readers, including myself, who volunteer every year to help students with their essays. Additionally, school college counselors are great sources of information for students. Jamie
I needed different things for my daughter than I do for my soon-to-be-senior son so I am hiring a different counselor. Do some quick research (check the archives here) and send out some inquiries. Both times I was able to find people who were/are relatively affordable, helpful and not at all scolding about the entering the process late (which I did also). I found rates that vary from $100-250 an hour so check around.
Kids and families who cannot afford this must rely on college counselors at school if they have them, and it is an incredibly unfair system that is just one more way the privileged stay that way and pass on privilege to our children. That said, if you are so privileged as to be able to afford it, you put your kid at a disadvantage by not buying into this system (similar to SAT tutoring).
The way to get out of the rat race is to be open and flexible about a range of colleges. If you and your student and are fine with the Cal States or less prestigious small privates, all this is probably not necessary, presuming s/he has decent grades and test scores. --Trying to remain calm amid the craziness
Here are some tips and advice:
-- I know a handful of people who use the services of Scholar Station. They offer the comprehensive college-admissions advising that you mentioned in your post, but what's nice about them is that they also offer a la carte services, such as just essay editing, workshops, test prep, etc. http://www.scholarsstation.com
-- Dedicate this summer to narrowing her choices and starting a rough draft on some of her college essays.
-- A book we found helpful was ''On Writing the College Application Essay,'' by Harry Bauld. It is short, written in a very friendly & easy-to-read style, and has wonderful examples of good and not-so-good essays in the back -- including critiques by admissions counselors.
-- If your daughter wants to apply to any rolling-acceptance schools such as University of Oregon, do it as soon as they are accepting applications. I only suggest this because it is nice to have one acceptance under her belt when she's doing her other applications.
-- Attend any workshops or lectures offered by your daughter's school or district. I found a few of them to be really helpful, esp in figuring out FAFSA. And I also discovered a little on the late side that my son's high school career and college counselor was amazing. Wish we had known about that resource sooner. She was on top of every deadline at every school and knew a ton about who gets in where.
This is a stressful time, and so many parents absolutely lose their freakin' minds!!!! I had to figure out which moms i could ask for advice and which moms would freak me the hell out. Use this as an opportunity to work WITH your daughter. We made to-do lists, with deadlines for starting apps & essays, completing them, and so on. We checked in every so often. Breathe mama, breathe
Hi - we are embarking on the college application journey with our junior - for anyone who has just been through this, the following would be so helpful: how many colleges did your son/daughter ultimately apply to? How many of these were ''safe'' schools? How many were ''reach''? Where (in general terms) did your child get in? What went right with the whole thing and what went wrong? Would you do anything differently if you were to shepard the whole process through again? Thanks for sharing your insights
We had one ''safety school system'' and one ''reach school''. My student was offered admission at all the schools except the ''reach'' school. Eight schools in total were applied to. When you apply to the University of California you can specify up to 3 campuses. So that was our ''fallback'' and where my student eventually decided to go.
We visited all the schools and our student spent the night at two of the schools in California. I think that was the most important thing we did, because on paper we had one set of priorities but after visiting, meeting the current students, spending time, and looking at the living conditions, we came up with a different set. Almost inverse in fact.
On paper the schools without requirements and open curriculums and generous ''reciprocal'' class agreements with sister colleges seemed almost too good to be true. But after looking at the data: graduation ratios and spending time on campus, we found that it took a very focused student to make the most out of these opportunities and often far too many distractions added stress rather than advantage.
We also looked at student services, academic support, health care, and housing options. We found the University of California system even in the face of cuts was still a great place. It has served our student well.
I hope you have a high school counselor but if not it might make sense to consult a private one - make use of your time by narrowing your search.
Your student's grades, test scores, geographical location, minority status, and family income will cast some of the choices for you. If you have the money likely you will not receive substantial financial aide - merit scholarships are few unless your student has already landed one. We found it limited to $3,000 per year, which did not make much of a dent in $35,000-$50,000 per year private school costs. I have had friends who have shouldered $100,000+ college debt for themselves or their children but it is a very confining burden come graduation. Athletic scholarships are also narrow generally confined to popular male sports like football or basketball at the competitive sports colleges and universities, though there are exceptions. Also remember to include travel costs if your student wants to come home on holidays and will need to come home on breaks. You may also need to visit - things come up. Good Luck
1) Start early with visits to a few colleges on spring/summer vacations so that your kid gets a feel for what different campuses are like. Local day trip options: take the train to UC Davis, visit UC Santa Cruz, see Stanford, Mills, SF State and USF. Take the tours that get you into dorms and classrooms. Have your kid take pictures and take notes (we made a little checklist for them to use and take notes so they could remember afterward what they thought of the students, campus, etc.) Pick up a school newspaper to get a feel for daily life.
- Don't let books/guides drive your decisions, but do take a look at several. We liked Princeton Review, SparkNotes, Ruggs, Fiske, & Colleges that Changes Lives, as well as College Prowler, Princeton Review, Unigo and RateMyProfessor websites.
- You'll probably start with a long list. I think my daughter had 30 or so at first. She joined mailing lists, ''liked'' them on Facebook, and set up a special gmail account for emailing colleges. It was fun at first, but got to be a bit overwhelming. By spring of junior year she'd visited some on the west coast, some on the east coast, and had a better sense of what she liked, so narrowed her list to 3 UC's and 9 privates.
- Of the 12 schools:
3 were ''safety'' (acceptance rates over 60%),
3 were ''match'' (SATs/GPAs like hers, acceptance over 30%),
6 were ''reach'' (SATs like hers or maybe slightly higher, acceptance rates under 30%).
And guess what? She got into all six of her safety & match schools, and none of her six reach schools. We're really happy that she chose her safety and match schools carefully...they were all schools that she would have been happy to attend.
And her friends who only went for the big name schools? Despite perfect GPAs and strong test scores, the majority of them got ''no'' for an answer, or were wait-listed. So while our daughter was disappointed not to get into a couple of ''reach'' schools she really liked, it helped her to know that she was not alone in these rejections, and it also really helped to have some enthusiastic acceptances. Some great schools that are not on everyone's radar are offering generous merit scholarships, pay for flights for accepted students to visit, and offer a warm welcome, which is a refreshing and exciting way to go off to college...
Wait, she's going to college? Suddenly it seems all too soon... Relieved Parent of Happy Kid (once Finals are over)
Consider applying to a college or two that offer Early Action, which is a non-binding form of early notification of acceptance. It can be such a relief to know early on that you have a good option! And often these Early Action places will offer scholarships as enticements. Furthermore, applying Early Action means you have to get your act together for an earlier deadline, so there is motivation to get the personal essay written and other documents in hand sooner, which means less to do for the later apps. (Start working on personal essay summer between junior/senior year or at least very early fall.)
Another piece of advice re college apps, if your student's grades/scores are not strong, some of the schools that offer Rolling Admission have higher acceptance rates and a fairly quick turn-around, another source of relief from anxiety. Doesn't mean they can't try for more selective schools - it's just nice to know about these in case...either to apply early or late: there are tons that offer rolling admissions. =Early Bird=
A lot of what we learned for Son 1 can be applied to Son 2, so we're planning on only one session with a private college advisor to validate our list and approach, but we will use Lesley Quinn again to help with his essays. She's very good.
Lastly, if you want to enjoy Thanksgiving and winter break, start everything early! Good luck. -Carol B
I talked to a few of these ''private college advisors'' on the phone this fall, thinking of engaging one of them, and heard nothing but a very rapid stereotyping of my child based on the most basic information, and including a few names of schools based on these stereotypes. We are proceeding without the benefit of this ''private'' and very expensive advice. The hype around college admissions is tremendous, and my sense is you are only making it worse for your kids by supporting the idea that this is a profession anyone actually needs. a Berkeley Mom
Even in the best of times, pre-proposition 13 etc, when I went to school, a little more help in selecting the non- brand name colleges would have been really useful.
+ First, today with (public school) counselors having to help 150 to 400 kids per year, personalized help is out of the question.
+ Second, frankly with more kids applying to more schools, even with kids with great scores can have trouble getting into the select schools. (I know, I'm an alumni interview for a highly selective university. And one kid I thought was a slam dunk, captain varsity sports team, 730's SAT's, COSMOS, good essay was waitlisted. I was shocked.)
+ Third, and for us most importantly, we use a college counselor, Barbara Austin, (852-0447) to get our junior to do his essay over the summer without parental nagging.
+ Fourth, I would say that this is not do or die. Thankfully, there are often many, many second chances, but you really have limited experience with the whole college admissions process. You do it once, twice, three times, at most. Why is it you don't want help. I know my kid needs the help. To think that you can get it right by yourself or even worse, let you child (yes despite the hormones, and height, etc. they really still often are children) decide well good luck with that! nr
Greetings - here's a question about timing: my husband and I are celebrating our twentieth anniversary in the fall and have never been away from the kids on a vacation of our own, so months ago we turned in our miles for a week in Europe. We planned this trip for November and now that I'm entering the college application process with my junior daughter, I'm realizing that leaving for a week in the middle of the November of her senior year may not be such a good idea. Since we used miles, we could make a change in the calendar year. I don't want to give up our long-awaited vacation, but I also don't want to abandon my daughter at a crucial time in the application process. We'd be gone over Thanksgiving week but there are all sorts of deadlines around that time. My husband is graciously being flexible, but I'd like to do the right thing for both my marriage and my college-bound daughter. If you've been through this with your kid, how busy is this period? Is it terrible timing or should we forge ahead and treat this as an enabling time for her to do things on her own for a week? Really on the fence about rescheduling. Bad vacation planning on my part
By early, we really mean ''early'', with most college deadlines for these applications (including transcripts, recommendations and completed applications with essays) mid-October to early November - well before your Thanksgiving European vacation. For example, Boston College, Harvard and Stanford's early action filing deadline is November 1st. UC does not offer early action or early decision, but the application process opens November 1st, so you just file the application the first week and miss the last-minute rush.
''Early action'' means it's a non-binding decision so the student can apply to other colleges as well (N.B. some colleges have ''single choice early action'' which precludes early application but not regular applications to other colleges). ''Early decision'' is binding. The student should only do an ''early decision'' application if he/she really wants to go to that school. Most schools inform the student of their decision before the end of the year, while regular applicants have to wait until March or April of the following year. If the student isn't accepted early, the application is returned to the applicant pool with the regular deadline students, so it can be reconsidered.
So if your student knows where he/she wants to go, go ''early''. You'll beat the rush, get a decision much faster than everyone else, and be relaxing over the Thanksgiving holiday while other students are frantically trying to upload their first essays and overloading the server (happens every November 30th on the UC applications system). Good Luck
I hope you've made arrangements for an adult to stay at the house with your teen while you're gone. Not because your teen can't get to school without help, but to take away the temptation to have a big party. Go ahead and travel!
My daughter just heard from her first choice college, Brandeis. She has been wait listed. The letter she received indicates there is no ranking of the wait list & doesn't say how the wait list works. Looking for current information about college waiting lists in general & Brandeis in particular. Thanks. first time college mama
The content for each school is completely dependent on what people post there. I'm not sure if the current threads address the Brandeis wait list, but you could start one. You should also look at the threads for other comparable schools to get a sense of general trends regarding wait lists, as well as what people suggest to improve the chances of getting in from a wait list. It's been about 6 years since we were in your situation, but from reading numerous threads at College Confidential, I was able to figure out very early that it was going to be a tough year to get off the wait list at many schools, including the ones where my son was wait-listed. It helped a lot to know that.
College counselors tend to dislike College Confidential, because there is no accuracy check on what people write and no assurance of a balanced perspective. However if you keep these factors in mind it can be a very useful source of information and scuttlebutt. For instance, the school my son attended required a dorm selection. He was out of the country and unable to visit the school to make an informed choice. I found that the info on the College Confidential thread on the topic was very consistent with what I learned myself on a campus tour and by speaking directly to current and former students. Had we been forced to make a decision without visiting the school the College Confidential online advice would have served us in good stead.
Dear Community: We are the parents of a seventeen-year-old high school junior who is just beginning to navigate the colleges selection/admissions process. I would love to benefit from the experience of (as well as congratulate) those parents who have recently been through this undertaking. Specifically, I'd love to know: what was your role in this whole thing? How much advice/counsel/guidance did you offer? How much did your son/daughter manage the process on his/her own? What do you wish you'd known at the outset?
I can already tell my daughter is daunted by the whole concept of college applications and test-taking. She goes to a great local private school which I'm hoping will play an active role in this whole endeavor.
Did you use the services of a college counselor? Was the helpful? Was it worth the expense? Is this useful given that she's already in private school?
Any sage advice from the veterans in our community would be much appreciated. Hoping to strike the right balance
Our child's role was to continue to do well in school, extra-curriculars and work. He had to study for and take several standardized tests and be personable and intelligent in interviews. He wrote the essays and completed the applications - which were reviewed by the college advisor and his parents. His parents developed spreadsheets to track all of the deadlines and created a filing system to organize all of the information. We also traveled with him to look at colleges and gave our opinions. My experience is that it is a rare student who can truly do it all on his/her own. Some students are forced to by circumstance, which doesn't sound like your case. While my son was in high school, there were parents who claimed their child was doing it all on his/her own, but a year later, stories revealed that not to be the case. So much is expected of these kids. They deserve the support we can give them, I think.
I think that one thing that helped to reduce stress was to encourage our son to not focus on the one favorite school and to leave decisionmaking about favorites until after he had acceptances. Hope that helps. Good luck! College Parent
We took spring break of my daughter's Junior year to make appointments at five different schools on the East Coast, and it was a great way to narrow down the long list of possibilities. She had thought she really wanted to go to Columbia, but after visiting, she was glad she had gone to the campus because she decided she didn't want a huge urban school after all. She didn't know much about Wheaton in Massachussets before our visit, but absolutely loved it when we toured there, and decided that she was more drawn to smaller liberal arts colleges.
The next step was getting her to articulate her goals, interests, and criteria in a college. Once she'd done that, we made an appointment with Wendy Morrison, a local college counselor/private consultant who really knows her stuff. Our family met with her for an hour and a half, and she had great suggestions for schools for my daughter to apply to and had a lot of substantive information about the schools my daughter was considering. Great investment.
Then there's a mountain of deadlines and supplementary essays to keep track of. Be sure to check on word counts. Twice my daughter misread the allowed length of the essay as the number of words instead of characters, so doublecheck the little stuff. Good luck! TG
We just received her first acceptance with a healthy scholarship to a small private east coast school! I am so proud of her. She is so proud of herself. She is now charging along applying for scholarships she was nominated for or I found and suggested.
College faires helped and a couple days of us just making ''yeah'' and ''nay'' piles in the living room from the zillions of packages received as well as assistance from a friends' mother who spent hours matching her interests and academics to schools with financial aid.
It is a delicate and self adjusting balance. you need to support and direct and then step back and watch or close your eyes and hold your breath. In the end it is a great threshold-teachable moment for all. Enjoy the ride. Good luck! V.
We had a very unfortunate event due to accommodating our son's request to ''handle it on his own'' (college app process). He recently turned 18 and has been craving more responsibility. He applied to state colleges through CSU Mentor and got some confirmations by mail and some via email. We asked his next steps and he said he would hear sometime between Feb and April of decisions and he'dd keep us in the loop.
He got some letters in Jan and followed up on others via automated phone systems but he hadn't heard from his preferred. Together we checked the original app confirmation email which explicitly advises to check CSU Mentor often as it is the ''primary source of information and communication regarding your application''. In his account, the last note (posted on Jan 7) said his application had been dropped because he had not submitted his ACT/SAT scores when requested and there's no appeal since the campus is impacted and many other applicants had submitted their info in a timely manner! What happened?!?!
When looking over the CSU Mentor account there had been 2 notices in December asking for his test scores and 7 or 8 prior messages with generic ''keep your grades up'' notices reminding him ''not to get senioritis'' and that his final GPA would be important.
My son's explanation:
After submitting his apps he'd checked CSU Mentor once a week. On seeing the generic emails, he assumed that nothing important would be there till admissions/rejection notices and he stopped looking.
It wasn't until his first responses came in that he checked again and by that time it was too late! Now he'll never know if he would have been accepted to his favorite school and has to wait a year if he wants to reapply!
In hindsight, I realize as a first-time-college-app-parent, I didn't know what to look for or what challenges there might be. I assumed his counselor would follow up and test scores would automatically be sent.
My advice: support your kid's request for independence, but don't let go completely. Set up a regular schedule for monitoring the process and keep in touch with other adults assisting your child (counselors, advisors, tutors, etc.) and ask for updates. And remember to check for post-app requirements within the first month after the deadline.
This was a tough life-lesson for all of us and maybe this will spare someone our pain! anon
My daughter and many of her friends will be finishing up college applications over the next few weeks, and we'd like to take them out to celebrate. I've been hearing about restaurants that are now making a nice range of alcohol free mixed drinks. Can anyone recommend a place, preferably in the east bay, that makes good ones? We'd love for them (and the adults with us who don't drink) to be able to celebrate with something more festive than soda or fruit juice. Thanks! Light at the End of the Tunnel
At the end of every semester the kids gathered in our back yard around the fire pit (nothing glamorous - one we got from Target a few years back - you can even do it in a barbq) and they clean out their back packs and burn all the paper, etc. they no longer needed.
When they all finished their college applications they did a slightly bigger celebration - they brought over all the papers, drafts, practice tests, all the mail they no longer needed from the schools, one kid even burned her SAT prep book - they took pictures, made s'mores, we made virgin margaritas, and they were out there talking around the fire for hours! A picture of the burning of the SAT book became my daughter's home page on her computer for a long time - it was personally symbolic for them, they created it, it was easy and certainly inexpensive as some of the kids have little money for a more fancy celebration and was of their own making. It was a really lovely nite for us to see them talking outside for hours. Its now become a continued gathering as they are all now in college. They will all be back over winter break to sit around the fire. another mom
My hs senior brought home a form from Albany High, the parents ''brag sheet''. This is to help the counselors write letters of rec. for the kids.
I'm supposed to list what I consider my son's most outstanding accomplishements in the past 3 or 4 years and why am I choosing these as most important? Academic accomplishements and interests and examples. Non academic....
I have to admit I have no idea how to start this? My son has accomplished maturity, independance, compassion, ''menschlekeit''....these are the outstanding accomplishements in my opinion.
He had a Bar Mitzvah, he fenced in a tournament, he went to Israel....is this what they want to know about? Help from anyone who's done this....I need examples. Thanks, college mom
''My son has accomplished maturity, independance, compassion, ''menschlekeit''....these are the outstanding accomplishements in my opinion. He had a Bar Mitzvah, he fenced in a tournament, he went to Israel....is this what they want to know about? mother of a senior too
I'm going crazy with my first-born and the college application process. I am on the faculty at UCB but am getting different info from the admissions office and the college of Natural Resources (believe me there is no advantage to getting inside info just because you are on the faculty! I'm in the dark just like everyone else!) My daughter is interested in Near Eastern Studies in the college of Letters and Science , but I'm told that her application will be treated as ''undeclared'' I'm assuming this will make it harder to get in. She's also interested in Forestry thru Natural Resources. My question- Would it be best to apply to Letters and Sciences with Near Eastern Studies or Natural Resources in Forestry. The bottom line- which choice would better her chances of getting in ( assuming all else being equal, essay etc..) Thanks so much! It wasn't this hard when I went to UCB
Believe it or not, the other UCs also have some great programs too. berkeley mom
Now that the time has come, sure enough I'm in a big panic! I went to a meeting last year at my daughters school and came away with the knowledge that the whole college applicaiton process is very stressful. Of course I've been worrying for a year, but haven't really done too much about it. I'd like to know if there is help out there, what do other parents do? I'm a single mom and was not educated in this country, so I feel like I'm at a disadvantage. Are there inexpensive (or free) ways to find out exactly what you're supposed to do?
We did a very detailed analysis of costs and benefits of private colleges vs University of California, I think a lot of other people are too, considering the numbers entering UC this fall. College Teen Parent
My daughter wants to major Engineering and applying UC schools, CalPoly, and some Ivy schools. Although I didnít major Engineering, I took several Math and Engineering courses at Cal, so I do not recommend my daughter to go to Cal. When I was a student there, major classes were too crowded. Beginning of each semester, there were hundreds of students sitting down on the floor for first couple months until half of the classmates dropped. These classrooms were made for three hundreds students or so. I also had to wait for a long line, when I wanted ask professors questions and sometimes late for next class. It might be similar for any other classes which are requirement. Classes must be more packed now and next few years.
About private counselors and tutors:
Although my daughter told me several students at her school use private counselors or tutors, not many people can afford them. I canít. But I donít think my daughter is behind or doing less than those students. We use any help from our family and friends. I tutored her mathematics through Calculus, and her uncle who is a lawyer helped her history classes. Her fatherís friend who is a magazine editor checked her English essays (but he didnít change a lot). My daughter decided her father (high school English teacher) is not good enough, and her other uncle (high school history teacher) is not willing to help her.
My daughter observed and analyzed (she likes to analyze everything) students/friends who graduated last 2 years, and she is using them as indicators. Some of the indicators are; Science/Engineering students who finished Calculus AB & BC (and or other AP classes) during their junior years tend to go to Cal, while many students who took it during senior years went to CalPoly or State Universities. Among them, who took score 5 on AP Calculus exams were accepted by schools where they wanted to go, such as Stanford and Harvard. Also many of them went to Cal Engineering/Science. I donít know how schools consider AP classes and scores, but students can demonstrate how they are challenging. If you take AP exams by junior years, you can put scores on the application. It might be similar for other majors, although I donít know which AP classes are important for them. These indicators helped her decide where she apply, and not to apply.
Public schools or private schools:
Since I can not afford for a private school, we made a deal. My daughter can go to a private school only if she gets full scholarships. If she gets it, I will not complain how far the school is. It will be difficult for me, but I have to have respect for her choice and effort. There were several students from her school who went to Ivy schools with full scholarships last years. Their financial backgrounds vary. At least one of the students has professional parents. However, their performances are alike. They took many AP classes, there were in varsity sports, leaderships or community services. But not all of them were perfect.
I will see what will happen to my daughter, who tries hard but not perfect. If she gets in where she wants, I will help friendsí kids as a free tutor. Teen's mom
My son is a Senior this year in Albany. He is an African American student seeking to attend a historical Black college. His SAT scores are sort of low but has a strong cummlitive GPA. This is my first child to go to college and I need to make sure we are on the right path with our applications. S
and here www.act.org/
If you child plans to go to a four year college. The Collegeboard site is very helpful, and it is where you register for the SAT test. The Act.org site is for The ACT. Your child needs to take one of these if not both, usually the SAT for most colleges. I would also get out the tea pot, or ice water jug and start sitting down with your senior every week, either after school or after weekend breakfast and have some talks about what they want to do or don't want to do. Four year college is not for everyone, but most work these days is requiring a Bachelors degree. This degree can be helpful even if someone pursues a career in Art or as a Chef, since this will be good preparation for project or business management. If your child wants a training program, you need to look into that, and there may be financial aid depending on the program.
Get your financial records in order and file for Financial aid as soon as they will take it, don't wait for the deadline. Financial packages are often awarded first come first served. As a single mother without a lot of money your child may qualify for a maximum financial award, though this may also involve a rather large loan. Read the paypack terms, since it is best to have no interest while in school or deferred low interest, there is interest while in school, but you pay later and payment after leaving school.
The worst loans are high interest, with fees of all kinds, and require payments immediately, do not take out these loans!
If you do not understand the loan terms, make an appointment with your banker - if you have a checking or a savings account, your bank may help you understand these options, or again speak with the college counselor.
Beware programs for quick easy college loans on the internet. The best ones are usually administered thru the college and are Federally guaranteed. Check and see if the college you are most interested has one bank or a choice of banks. There have been a few situations lately where private colleges were sending all of the loan business to only one bank with terms that were not competitive with other banks. Borrower needs to understand the terms.
California has an amazing system of public colleges: University of California Campuses, California State University campuses, and many, many exceptional community colleges and programs. The University of Texas, the University of Oregon and the University of Vermont and the SUNY system of New York are very worth while to look at for lower costs and excellent opportunities among others. Some of the other state university systems are a little easier to get into than the University of California.
Make an appointment with you child's college counselor as soon as possible. Ask for help from the principal, and her favorite teachers as well. Ask the librarian to help you with resources. There are many books at the library, and you can read through many of the current editions at Barnes and Noble, since they allow browsing.
Make a wall chart and get bizzy. If you cannot afford the application fees or college exam entrance fees you can get waivers, however it is getting pretty late. Your child needs to be scheduled or have taken the exams already. Did it last year, you can too
My oldest daughter, now 16 and in 11grade, is a hardworking, strong (though not stellar) student. GPA hovering at 3.8. She is not as strong in math and sciences; still searching for her calling in life. She's definitely college bound, however, not one to stray too far from California. We didn't have enough to put away big bucks for the private school of her choice. We're middle class and unlikely to qualify for scholarships or grants. We'd like to hear from parents who have been there and any advice to high school students preparing for college and anything you would have done differently with your own kids to prepare them for the future. Thank you for sharing your insights! Signed, Newbie Parents
First, visit a few local campuses during your 11th grade that represent the different kinds of schools, e.g., small private (U. of Pacific, Mills, St. Mary's,...), big public (Cal, SF State, Chico), urban (Cal, SF State, SJ State), midsize to small town (Davis, Chico, Humboldt). Town and school on same page (Humboldt, Davis). Town and school on separate pages (Mills, Evergreen St.). Residential v. commuter (e.g., most of the above v. Sac. State or SJ State). Do a couple, and she will pretty quickly have a read on size and location, private v. public. Preppy v. broad spectrum.
Really, just a couple visits will do.
Second, make sure she sits in on classes by herself to get a read on the school. Have a meal in the cafeteria. Possibly spend a night in the dorm. The more personal contact, the better. She can look through a couple department offerings and email the teachers to see if it is ok to sit in. Most cases will welcome you.
Third, go when your high school is out of session and the college is in session. E.g., Columbus Day, Veteran's Day, Thanksgiving week, President's Day Weekend, etc.
Do not put too much weight in the organized visits arranged by the colleges. They give you tours of buildings, led by a couple of peppy kids. You miss the real nitty gritty of seeing the teachers and kids in action. Your daughter will get ton's out of this, which cannot be conveyed at the college's organized events.
Also, if you can help it, avoid driving through a campus on a weekend ''just to see the place'' is a very distorted view - one that is just a bunch of buildings.
Note also that if you take one college walking tour, you have probably taken all of them. You can start one, but in 5 minutes you will see the same picture from the previous one.
Fourth, if you can afford the $500 to 800, get the services of a college applications consultant. That can help a lot, mainly by taking you out of the picture. That financial investment is small compared to a year's wasted tuition at the wrong school.
Fifth, get validation that your daughter is ready for college and wants to go. Very important. Consider options. If you can afford $600, I recommend the Johnson O'Connor Research Institute in San Francisco. They do a two day evaluation of interests and capabilities using written and manual tests and interviews. The stuff they get will blow your mind, stuff you'll never get from an academic setting. This experience really opened up the options and vision for our daughter.
Sixth, consider alternative college formats, e.g., at Evergreen State (in Olympia, Washington) and Colorado College (in Colorado Springs, CO). Evergreen may be 50 to 100 years ahead of all the rest of the colleges in the country.
There are probably other idea's you will get from others on the board. I wish you the very best of luck. Nathan
My youngest is in 10th grade now, and her dream school is $30000 a year. We have saved some money, but nothing like that. We have already told our kids that we expect them to pick up some of the tab by taking out student loans and working part time. Good luck. The next couple of years are full of transitions and changes. Our kids think they're grown up, but sometimes they just need to come home and be tucked in and have a bedtime talk. jenny
My son is a senior at Berkeley High Independent Study. He has a dx of
ADD, though is not on meds for it. He is attempting to
complete some online high school courses to make up for
some earlier bad grades. He says he wants to go to college
but won't see the college counselor,won't finish his
online courses, won't even pick a college to send ACT
scores to, etc. Time management is an issue with his ADD.
I want to help him get to college but feel that I'm having
to push too much. If I don't push I don't think he'll get
to a 4yr college next year, but if I do push will he even
be ready for a 4yr college? Hope someone has some
experience with this. Thanks.
I know theres a certain prestige when your child gets into Berkeley or NYU, but you have to remember when they turn 18, they are adults and have to make their own decisions. We can decide if we will support them financially, but they have to have their own goals.
I know several adults with ADD or ADHD, and they tend to be the ''go-getters''. Some, like my brother, went off medication in his mid-teens, and it took a few years after high school for him to get started, but he's doing quite well now. Good luck to you and your son Jenny
That said, you're right that you can only help as much as you
expect to be able to help once he's in college -- unless he will be
attending a school that will offer the help he needs. If that's an
option (Landmark College actually specializes in ADD and LD
kids, many schools offer support services) than do what it takes to
keep him on track, knowing that increased maturity will also help
him next year.
ADD Mom to ADD kids
Can anyone tell me what the standard procedures are for a high-schooler headed for college? Evidently all my sons friends took the PSAT this month, but my son did not. I wasn't aware that sophomores - which he is - took PSAT's. He's a great student and I see college as a definite. His high school is just so middle of the road - College Park High in Pleasant Hill. It isn't one of the top schools in the area, nor is it one of the worst, where a college might actively do some outreach.
I went to college in Florida where kids were guaranteed placement in college and my husband is foreign so neither of us had to deal with tests, competition, or applying to various colleges. So, during the high school years, just what should a kid be doing to get into college? (Evidently taking the PSAT is one of them.) I remember taking the ACT test to get into college, yet I never hear about it around here. When should a student take a PSAT, the SAT, ACT? How soon do you start applying to college? How, when and where does one go to apply for scholarships, grants, financial aid? Some kind of time line and what steps should be taken would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
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