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Wearing the counselor hat: how to help your students find the right fit


Jane in NC
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Now that our high school seniors have made their decisions regarding college, I think this would be a good time to discuss the process of how we help our kids determine a list of colleges to which they applied. Up front it should be noted that there is no single path to success. Our kids have individual needs and our financial circumstances vary.

 

My son is completing his junior year of college. We started looking at colleges during his sophomore year of high school, making some visits in May. We knew that he would not attend my husband's alma mater (Lehigh) but we thought that Lehigh would be a good starting point as my husband was familiar with the campus and the process there. Since we were in PA, we also visited a liberal arts school (Dickinson) that had caught my son's eye. But at this point he really wasn't sure what he wanted in a college.

 

During the fall of his junior year, he began taking dual enrollment courses at the CC. He read Loren Pope's Colleges that Change Lives and occasionally toured a college's website. All of these things helped shape his ideas about college itself but he began focusing more and more on schools that had a program (archaeology) with his interest (ancient European). This alone actually streamlined his college list.

 

Many parents discuss large vs. small schools, urban vs. rural settings. Some kids we know really want to participate in the sports experience--big football games on Saturday and NCAA basketball tournaments. My son found the college he attends through a family friend, a retired high school guidance counselor who gave him a list of schools off the beaten track to consider.

 

Once your student has a list, I recommend going to the College Navigator on the government IPEDS site to look at the middle test score range and the percent of students receiving financial aid. There is also an average cost feature which shows what a typical student pays as opposed to the sticker price.

 

Visiting schools when they are in session is ideal but is challenging when your own student has commitments through dual enrollment, co-op, etc. Do the best you can. And remember that a student does not need to visit every school before applying. Many schools will do telephone or Skype interviews. The visit can come later if your student keeps the school on his list.

 

I am sure that lots of other great advice will follow. Let's help the parents of sophomores and juniors look down the road.

 

Jane

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Jane,

 

What a fabulous topic!! I look forward to reading the responses. Our older 2 neuro-typical kids have been easy. They knew what they wanted to do and where they wanted to go and the options were completely affordable. But, I am completely overwhelmed with how to guide our 11th grader.

 

How do you advise a student that is definitely not the typical student, will have college credit for 2 semesters of chemistry, 4 semesters of cal up physics, 6 semesters of math (cal1 up), high scores for SAT2s, but with ACT/SAT scores that are not reflective of ability? Merit scholarships that are based strictly on scores will weed him out. We cannot afford to help him with costs beyond the costs of attending full-time locally. Yet, he is definitely not the avg student on this campus and would love for him to have the opportunity to attend a more challenging school.

 

Anyone want to help me find a counselor hat that fits??

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How do you advise a student that is definitely not the typical student, will have college credit for 2 semesters of chemistry, 4 semesters of cal up physics, 6 semesters of math (cal1 up), high scores for SAT2s, but with ACT/SAT scores that are not reflective of ability? Merit scholarships that are based strictly on scores will weed him out. We cannot afford to help him with costs beyond the costs of attending full-time locally. Yet, he is definitely not the avg student on this campus and would love for him to have the opportunity to attend a more challenging school.

 

 

That's your son who wants to go into astrophysics, right?

First of all I would make sure to select a university that has a strong (astro)physics program and a graduate program. The graduate program is important because that means the professors are doing active research, which means he might be able to get involved as a undergraduate. When you call/visit schools, definitely ask how easy it is for undergrads to become involved in research! This is such a fantastic learning opportunity, more beneficial than many of the classes he'll be taking. And being published as undergrad will be beneficial when it comes to grad school applications; with his chosen field, your son will want to plan for graduate school. I'd make this one of the important selection criteria.

Along those lines: ask what track record the department's undergrads have when it comes to grad school: where are they going? In this field, it is much more important where one goes to grad school than where one goes as undergrad (as long as one gets into the good grad school.)

 

He son is exceptional and would thrive at a top school. Shoot for the top. Apply to several of the Ivies; if he gets in, many of the schools set their tuition based on parental income, and lower income families do not pay. (Princeton for example gives grants to cover full expense if the family income is below 60k)

Do you have a good public STEM focused university in your state? Then I'd absolutely apply there, because in state tuition is so much cheaper.

I am not sure what to advise about out of state public universities; some have good astro programs, but they will be more expensive than in state or top private school.

 

ETA: Since I mentioned grad school: Just in case you are not aware, physics students normally do not pay for graduate school! They are either Teaching or Research Assistants and receive either stipends or get tuition waived.

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A very good topic indeed, Jane.

 

I've been searching out old discussions on similar topics and have had fun reading a few from when my daughter was still homeschooling high school. I'll cut and paste a few things.

 

"In the summer before my daughter started 9th grade, I asked her if she imagined that she would attend college. She said, "Yes." (Had she answered "No", I'm not sure what I would have done!) Given her answer, I asked her to find six colleges that sounded interesting.

 

I gave her a few books to look through to help her out with this. As I recall they were:

 

Cool Colleges: For the Hyper-Intelligent, Self-Directed, Late Blooming, and Just Plain Different by Donald Asher

 

Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges by Loren Pope

 

and a mega tome along the lines of this one Fiske Guide to Colleges

 

Then I had her write to each one asking what the requirements were for admission and if they had specific recommendations for homeschoolers. One could of course do this all online; however, she loved to get mail.

 

The whole purpose of this exercise was to get her to see what colleges in general were looking for in incoming students. This way she could see that four years of English, three or four years of math (including Algebra), three years of lab science, etc., were requirements for what she needed to do if she hoped to attend college. That took me out of the bad guy role of saying, "I need you to do this or that"; instead it became "Colleges are looking for ....""

 

 

During her high school years, my daughter's interests changed. When I had her do the exercise above, she was most interested in art; however, by the time she was an 11th grader her interests had changed. She's a senior in college now majoring in Latin and minoring in Geology.

 

 

I wrote these posts at the tail end of the summer before my daughter's last year of high school:

 

"One thing we found helpful was to speak to people who are involved in that discipline [that interests your child]. For example, my daughter asked her Latin instructor for recommendations as to colleges with good programs in that field. If your child is taking a community college class, he or she might ask professors in the department there for their suggestions. You could also look at publications in the field to see where the authors are located; that might give you some leads to pursue."

 

"My daughter has spent a good many hours this summer working up her list of colleges to which to apply. (She started with a list of some 30 colleges that sounded intriguing and has been winnowing them down to a more manageable number.) She visited a couple of colleges this summer while on a family trip. She'll visit a couple more colleges in September; what's nice about these upcoming visits is that she'll actually be able to sit in on a class or two and see the campuses with a full complement of students."

 

Some more of my past comments:

 

"My daughter applied to a number of colleges that appeared to be an appropriate fit. Some of these colleges she did not visit until after she had been accepted. At that time, some seemed far less appropriate than others. You may wonder why she applied at all to colleges before visiting them. In our case, funds limited visits. Also, her desired major was offered at only three colleges in our state (one public, one semi-selective private, and one highly selective private) so she was forced to look far afield."

 

"I think the issue is that paying for college is a big mystery. Certainly, if money is no object, one can look at the sticker price and say, "Yes, I can afford the stated tuition, room and board, and other fees." However, if one is in need of financial aid, the whole process is a great mystery. One cannot determine with great accuracy what one would owe. There are FAFSA forecasters which give an 'idea' of what the family would be expected to pay, but even that is not accurate and does not reveal what loans a student would be expected to acquire. There is no PROFILE forecaster. (The PROFILE is a required financial aid form at many private colleges.)

 

Thus, we had our daughter apply widely and primarily to colleges which promised to cover 100% of need. As others have mentioned, colleges' perception of the student's need vary enormously. In our case, even the public university (with tuition of about $8,000 per year and room and board fees of approximately $10,000 per year) was out of our reach financially without aid. By applying to a number of colleges, my daughter was accepted at several private colleges that cost less than the state university. But, we had no way of knowing that until all the offers were in."

 

"For my daughter, visits were key. She had two schools that were tied for first place in her affections; it wasn't until she was able to visit both, attend classes, and stay in the dorm that one moved into definite front runner position. What made the difference? Not anything that she was able to quantify; it was all gut feeling.

 

All that said, finances played a major part in the decision making process from our seat. Both of the colleges mentioned above had about the same amount of merit aid and loan debt associated with them. There was a third school in the running that offered significantly better financial and merit aid in terms of the bottom line such that my daughter would have been able to walk away after four years being relatively debt free. She ultimately had to make the hard choice of whether to go to her number one choice (and assume a not insignificant amount of debt) or go with school number 3. We talked long and hard about this but ultimately left the decision up to her. She decided to go with her first choice school. She's had no regrets thus far."

 

The last was written three years ago. She graduates in about three weeks. Still no regrets!

 

Regards,

Kareni

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Jane, this is a great topic!

 

My counselor hat looked a bit different than the others described here.

 

My ds will be a college freshman in the fall and the journey to choosing a uni was actually fairly easy.

 

The first thing was to make a high school plan that met the 4x4 course guide that many unis look for, and we allowed electives that interested him. That way, he didn't have any doors closed to him because of a lack of X or Y class.

 

By far, I think the biggest thing is that we talked. Did he know where he wanted to go (close to home or far away) or where he *didn't* want to go, did he want a large school or a a small one? Maybe a medium school? Urban or rural? Those types of questions.

 

He wasn't sure on a major, but knew it was going to be STEM, so we focused on schools that were strong there.

 

The thing that really made things easy was that ds didn't want to go far from home. He wanted a 4 to 5 hour drive time. That limited things a lot. Then, he decided he didn't want a huge school, so that narrowed the list down even more.

 

We started looking at admissions requirements on the remaining schools, then looked at merit aid. We don't qualify for need-based aid, so once we nixed the more expensive (private and many OOS) schools, we had a list of about five schools.

 

Ds chose to visit them, in no particular order, and 'felt' the campus. Two really stood out for him.... one was a large state uni, and the other was an out-of-state flagship. Interestingly, the out-of-state flagship offered much more in the way of scholarship (including a waiver of OOS tuition for solid, but not astronomical, test scores). Lucky for us, ds chose the OOS school. It will cost us less than half of our in-state school. Go figure!

 

If I learned one thing that I want to keep in mind for my next child, it's not to discount schools solely based on location. There may be info (buried deep on the web page in one case!) of OOS tuition waivers--- I had to search each college's website using terms like " ACT tuition waiver" or "out-of-state tuition waiver" or "out of state tuition scholarship". Several schools offered them (all in neighboring states), but they all called them something different. Some offered complete waivers, some offered partial waivers, and one offered complete waiver depending on which county the student lived in, even if it didn't border the county the school was in. The point is, I now know to search each school's page with a fine-toothed comb.

 

My counselor hat will look a little different for my next child, so I'll be watching this thread for other ideas! :001_smile:

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Jane,

 

What a fabulous topic!! I look forward to reading the responses. Our older 2 neuro-typical kids have been easy. They knew what they wanted to do and where they wanted to go and the options were completely affordable. But, I am completely overwhelmed with how to guide our 11th grader.

 

How do you advise a student that is definitely not the typical student, will have college credit for 2 semesters of chemistry, 4 semesters of cal up physics, 6 semesters of math (cal1 up), high scores for SAT2s, but with ACT/SAT scores that are not reflective of ability? Merit scholarships that are based strictly on scores will weed him out. We cannot afford to help him with costs beyond the costs of attending full-time locally. Yet, he is definitely not the avg student on this campus and would love for him to have the opportunity to attend a more challenging school.

 

Anyone want to help me find a counselor hat that fits??

 

 

Can he ask his current professors for recommendations of schools to consider - or the guidance office of the school where he's gotten his credits so far? They know him and his capabilities...

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Great topic, Jane!

 

I'm handling a long distance family crisis at the moment but I'll try to come back to this. As many have already mentioned, I would recommend start kicking the tires with what is local to your family, to determine what your student wants or doesn't want in a college. And look at college websites - not only for the section about potential new students, but also for current students. The student newspaper, which had some pretty racy (even by college standards) articles, was a turnoff to my dd.

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For us I'll confess that I just assumed our boys would all go to our Alma mater since hubby and I liked it so much and it's a big enough school to have pretty much everything there.

 

Oldest had to convince us he wanted another path. Once we realized that our dream was not theirs, we started on searches both online and in person. Each boy has asked people currently working in their desired field for suggestions. I've asked both on here and at college confidential. They've done basic google searches and some specific college searches.

 

Once we had names they liked, I checked out financial info to see if they might be affordable.

 

Then we visited. Both middle and youngest had the benefit of being dragged along on college visits with older brother(s). The visits sealed my guys choices (so far). They met with profs and other students and both found their niches. Both are completely happy with their choices. Neither would do as well in the other's choice. Oldest wanted small & Christian. He has one more year until he graduates. Middle wanted medium and research and will be doing paid work in a lab (research G proteins) starting this summer and continuing into his freshman year.

 

Youngest (current junior) has some names picked out. We'll be doing visits this fall.

 

In the "old" days we told oldest he had a limit of staying East of the Mississippi. While it could happen with all three (middle was accepted to two west of it), youngest could also end up in Hawaii. The "best" college is the one that fits the student the best and is affordable. The location can be anywhere.

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Can he ask his current professors for recommendations of schools to consider - or the guidance office of the school where he's gotten his credits so far? They know him and his capabilities...

 

LOL.....they have offered w/o his even asking. His math prof from last semester was just hired by a top school and will be starting there next semester. He emailed ds to tell him he should apply there. He also thinks ds should major in math, not physics. ;) But, the school is no more financially feasible than any other top school out there. Ds asked his current physics professor if he would write him LORs and the prof's response was that he would but he doesn't want to b/c he thinks ds should stay at that school. :p (definitely not even an option we are even considering)

 

The issue is not his capabilites. He is an incredibly strong student (he out-performs the college students consistently). The issue is simply that a 3 hr long test requiring fast-paced reading does not reflect his abilities. It is as simple as that. That is the hurdle that he has to overcome. I am actually not as concerned with admissions as I am with merit aid availability.

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The issue is not his capabilites. He is an incredibly strong student (he out-performs the college students consistently). The issue is simply that a 3 hr long test requiring fast-paced reading does not reflect his abilities. It is as simple as that. That is the hurdle that he has to overcome. I am actually not as concerned with admissions as I am with merit aid availability.

 

That's exactly why I think the profs would be a good route to go with. Many have colleagues at other campuses and many can talk with admissions or merit folks on behalf of students they know. Networking happens in many places. Your guy is much more than scores, but people need to know that instead of dismissing him in a pile of others. Guidance counselors often call admissions on behalf of students, but in this case, a "relative" calling isn't quite the same. A professor would be super.

 

If he can freely tell them he needs merit aid, perhaps they'll know of places - or programs with outside scholarships - that will work for him.

 

U Rochester does have Physics (and Math) and has some nice (competitive) merit scholarships up to full rides... but I would suspect he'd need that edge to be competitive without scores. I can attest to the fact that it's a very research based school. Many of the higher places don't have merit aid unfortunately. WUSTL does. Vanderbilt does (but wasn't a "fit" for my guy with the vast Greek stuff).

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I was a very active guidance counselor for two very different students. I did most of the research out of the same compulsion that drove all my homeschool research and planning. I knew what my boys wanted, had a gut instinct about fit, so would do the preliminary research on programs, merit aid and admissions stats and different schools, then present lists to them. How much of their own research they did after that is a bit of a mystery to me, still! It was the visits that sealed their interest, and gut instinct drove the final decisions, and thankfully it worked out.

 

This board was the single best resource for my guidance counselor work, from Jean in Wisconsin's transcript template to Jane in NC's recommendation of the school her son attends to all the lists of schools mentioned in different threads over the years. I relied on College Navigator and read College Confidential (though it wasn't very helpful, mostly comic relief), and lurked on the student review sites, taking the comments there with a large grain of salt.

 

We found the community college professors to be utterly useless when it came time to ask about good 4 year programs. I don't know if they just never get asked, or assume the bulk of their students are simply ticking off the boxes needed to transfer to a state school, but they had no suggestions and offered little encouragement. One did write a letter of recommendation, but she was so late in doing so, wouldn't respond to a couple of polite e-mails asking if she needed help posting them onto the Common App or if she needed stamped envelopes for specific colleges.

 

It was much harder finding the right school for my outside the box kid. He has known what he wants to do in life since he was 12 or 13, but I knew he was going to struggle to get a degree from one of the state schools because of his learning challenges. Art schools were too artsy for his taste, state schools were too rigid in both entrance and graduation requirements and he had very specific ideas about where he was willing to live. We had planned on him simply taking a long time to get his degree by working and just taking a class or two per semester, then I stumbled upon the for-profit school from which he is about to graduate. It looked, at first glance, like a slickly promoted diploma mill, but after visiting the campus and talking with some of the professors and the career placement office, we decided it would work. And it has.

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I was a very active guidance counselor for two very different students. I did most of the research out of the same compulsion that drove all my homeschool research and planning. I knew what my boys wanted, had a gut instinct about fit, so would do the preliminary research on programs, merit aid and admissions stats and different schools, then present lists to them. How much of their own research they did after that is a bit of a mystery to me, still! It was the visits that sealed their interest, and gut instinct drove the final decisions, and thankfully it worked out.

 

 

This about sums up the process that I went through with ds#1. I did most of the hard-core research based on his preferences, intended major, and what we could afford. He narrowed the list down a lot after we made several visits. He definitely found that what sounded good on paper was not always so in person.

 

Currently working on the process with ds#2, but he has totally different desires in a school, so his working list is completely different. He definitely benefitted from the visits he made with ds#1 so he's had a better idea of what would be a good fit earlier.

 

I have also found information gleened here to be invaluable, as well as info from the College Data site & IPEDs College Navigator. These sites helped me get a sense of school size, number of kids in the major department, merit aid, admissions stats, etc.

 

Brenda

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My role has depended heavily on the kid. My youngest (currently a junior) wants to major in something that is very unusual, so mostly we're focuing on find a school that 1) she can tolerate, 2) has a program in her field that she loves, and 3) will give her enough merit aid so she can actually attend!

 

My older two required much more help, since their fields of interest were found at many colleges so we had to finetune what they were looking for so they could eliminate some schools!

 

My 3rd was only interested in one school, and he found out about that school in 8th grade, so he applied ED with no backup plan whatsoever. EASY! :lol:

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So far, all of my kids have wanted schools that will give them what they need to do what they want. In their eyes, the school has functioned mainly as a tool.

 

My oldest went with his friends, which turned out to be a good thing, because although he's finished with grad school, he still collaborates with his buddies even though most of them live far away. This year he and a buddy won a startup competition for something they put together. That is the sort of thing that really floats his boat and what he wants to do all the time. He is an EE during the day.

 

My daughter is planning to go to grad school this fall unless her boyfriend pops the question. She works for a consulting firm but wants to study industrial design.

 

My youngest wants to study math. That's all. Wherever he can find decent faculty who like teaching. At this point, he'd like to study how chess can be used to help kids learn math. LOL. Seriously. He's going to try to get something started this summer where he can work with kids on chess and math from the Chicago area who are disadvantaged. Should be eye-opening. I wouldn't be surprised if he went into math pedagogy someday, but because that can be so contentious, I think he might also look into becoming an actuary.

 

None of them have wanted much debt. None have cared about prestige.

 

That sums up my children's criteria in a nutshell. LOL.

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I think there are several parts of the guidance counselor hat: picking colleges, applying, preparing to go, and staying in once there. They are all important and different students need more or less help with different pieces.

 

For my oldest, picking colleges was terribly easy - he looked at his brother's choice and said he'd like to apply. Since he was working full time, it was left to me to figure out every step from initial visit to freshman drop-off. It was a complicated process for this particular college and this particular student and included things like extra vaccines, passports, and intermediate alebra as a refresher math course at the community college. Once there, we discovered that it took lots of support to keep him there. Middle one was about the same but with a few differences, just to make things interesting, like applying as a homeschooler. (Oldest applied as an older student and hadn't homeschooled since middle school.) There was a cousin in between who, as an older student, needed help with the picking process and with the applying process. I made a list of possibilities and then a list of steps for applying (with deadlines) and he and his parents did the rest.

 

With youngest, the process worked very much the way Brenda and Jenn described. I made an initial list of possibilities based on what he said he wanted for size, location, and major, then I narrowed it down further based on some other factors I thought should be considered. Then there was the mystery phase, as Jenn put it. ("How much of their own research they did after that is a bit of a mystery to me, still!" - JennW in SoCal) Then he announced where he wanted to go. It was one of my top picks for him, but still surprised me, somehow lol. The application process was harrowing. Oldest was one-or-none and second was one-or-I-have-no-idea-better-wait-a-year, so the stress was fairly high, but the college wasn't particularly hard to get into and the academic application part was straight forward with no essay. Youngest's application packet involved the common app (grrrrr) with some horrifying number of attachments, including letters from the school system, essays, photos, and work samples, as well as the usual hassle of getting test scores sent and community college transcripts sent. Unlike with the older two's college, the youngest's application process required various decisions to optimize chances of acceptance. Some of them I just made and told him about. Some he made executive decisions about. And some were argued over. Lots of negotiating. Applying early action didn't work because they wanted to see his first semester grades, so I insisted he apply to other schools, just in case. Much stress and hassle in the middle of cc finals and Christmas. Ug. Because of finals, we were back to "just tell me what to do" and I made any decisions about which bits to send when. We haven't done the other two parts with him yet. I do know that the get-him-there part is going to be super easy compared to the older ones. That part will probably be dealt with very casually, mostly by him. I have no idea about the keep-him-there part. We told him he was going to need a study group in order to survive engineering school and he contacted a few other students and formed one. Hopefully that will last. We promised he could take both his white boards with him and promised to buy another if he needs it. We've talked about how classes typically go and how they might differ from his cc classes (and we've guided him through his cc classes). We've talked about getting someone to proofread one's writing and backing up one's computer. He's already figured out that one needs to leave time to allow for printer failures and computer glitches. We've talked about avoiding distractions, going for help, freezing under stress, and a few other things. We'll see. In my experience, college students in our clan, whether ps or homeschooled, still need some parental support. (This probably has something to do with our close extended family culture.) Providing that support from afar is tricky. I became very familiar with the post office's hours lol. Skype is miraculous. It took a bit of experimentation to figure out which form of communication worked best for which child. One tends to email every day and another does better with the traditional Sunday phone call home. The support tends to be less how-do-I-do-this-assignment and more how-do-I-buy-a-plane-ticket but there have been times when we have said, "You really should go talk to your professor about that."

 

Nan

 

PS - When it came to picking colleges, the government college search site that Jane recommended was very helpful. I called the guidance counselor at our high school when I needed would-it-be-better-to-apply-this-way-or-that-way advice and she looked up whether colleges were homeschool friendly or not on a list she had, and said that if he were applying here, he should also apply there, there, and there. That was helpful. Many college websites have a guidance counselor section in their admissions section which can be helpful. There is something called the common data set (I think?) on college websites that has more helpful statistics. One can do a search for that for a particular year on a particular college's website. It is good to check retention rate, graduation rate, employment rate, and financial aid statistics. Retention and graduation rates show things like what freshman year is like, how good admissions is at picking students that will make it through the program, and how good advising and job placement are. Admission rate gives you some indication of how many other college applications need to be sent. Very typical advice is 3 reach, 3 middle, 3 easy, based on admission rate and average test score and gpa.

 

PPS - MBA's post (written while I as writing) reminded me of another piece of guidance counselor hat - picking a field of study or a profession. I forgot because mine all went to college in order to become something specific (like an engineer). None of mine were general liberal arts students. I never had much to do with the picking-a-profession part and the picking-a-field-of-study part was a given for each profession. The profession drove the whole college picking process. The older ones had very few choices for their fields. The youngest was more complicated because mechanical engineering with a concentration in materials is fairly common, but when you added in wanting a not-too-big fairly applied/hands-on approach and the opportunity to travel, his choices suddenly narrowed down.

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Excellent Thread! Thanks Jane!!!

 

We have begun this process with eldest ds. It was really VERY easy to go through this with dd. She was pragmatic...logical, a regular Mrs. Spock. For her Fit was, A. the reputation of the chemistry/pre-med program. B. Merit Aid.

 

She did have one school on the list that she had visited that she would have LOVED to attend for reasons other than the above and the pre-med was pretty decent all things considered. She wasn't offered enough merit aid. She turned them down without any angst. She has no regrets. We should have named her Aristotle or Socrates. :D

 

Eldest ds is going to be a little trickier. His first choice is also a safety and he'll be in the top 15% of the freshman class if the stats are similar to this year's. That sounds wonderful doesn't it? However, he is going to have to get merit aid as there is a limit to what dh and I will pay, and what he should reasonably afford in loans. So, I'm trying very, very hard to find other schools that are also excellent fits, where he would be in the top 25% and have a shot at some merit. This isn't easy because his second favorite insitution is again, a safety for him in terms of stats, BUT knowing him, I don't think he'll bump his ACT score enough to be in that top group. Both are tier 1 institutions so the competition is tough. Both are also in-state publics at a time when Michigan's higher education budgets have been cut to the bone...so again, merit aid is tight. I'm putting Virginia Tech on the list and we'll visit, hopefully, in the fall. He has a couple of other computer software departments that have contacted them, but I'm a little leery and have cautioned him. Milwaukee School of Engineering is one and I am not impressed with the what I've seen so far. Of course, when it comes to STEM, I am a little edgy about regionally ranked schools and definitely want to stay away from unranked. There is a lot of competition in computer software engineering and he needs to be in a place with an excellent reputation and opportunities for freshman research plus internships with prominent companies.

 

I agree with Nan. With dd, it's been fairly rare to need to make any comment or give assistance on anything academic/course related. The support has been more along the lines of, "I'm crashing on campus with a friend and the dryer has melted gum in it. There's big red food dye stain. How do I get it off?" or "Mom, how many delays did you and dad encounter going to and from Chicago on Amtrak? Do you think I'll make it in time?" That kind of thing. One time, I did hear her father say, "This is your father speaking. GO TO THE DOCTOR AND STOP POWERING THROUGH!" She dutifully went.

 

The other ds's will be a breeze. Middle boy is hyper focused, has done his research, has a US map and created a summer family vacation schedule for his junior year that makes sure we hit the stops. He was rather deflated when I told him we'd prefer to NOT do college visits in the summer since campuses are quieter, summer semesters do not have as many course options so he might not be able to observe an appropriate class, some important individuals such as department heads may be unavailable for appointments, etc. Poor kid. He's making out a new schedule with much angst. But, he's such a happy, go lucky, easy going, academically minded kid, that as long as the school has an excellent reputation for his major and minor, he will fit in anywhere.

 

Youngest - he wants to study math and aeronautical engineering. He is my loaner, has no use for social life, and only needs top notch math classes and a lab to be happy. Seriously, he does not care about food, environment, dorm quality, campus life, socializing, girls, the look of the facilities, etc. He is shy however, and I do think a smaller school would probably be better. But, the reality is he is exclusively all about the coursework. So as long as he lands in an excellent school, it could be some huge school like Penn State or some small one like MTU or anything in between and he'll probably be fine.

 

Please everyone, be proactive about posting your campus visit reviews. It's very, very helpful to other hivers. Sometimes they contain vital information that make it possible to immediately remove a college from the maybe list, or add one.

 

Faith

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My counselor hat looked different for each dd but, we started the same way. We each grabbed one of those big college guide books (like Fiske) and just looked through them whenever we felt like it starting at the end of Freshman Year in High School. We each had a list in the back cover of the schools we thought would be good for each student. We visited some that we had selected and visited others that were on the way to vacation destinations. That way we could absorb "what college is like". We visited large and small, city and country, private and public. We ended up seeing about 30 schools when all was said and done. Some schools we visited twice when narrowing down the application list (they were also close to family that we were visiting). Then we went on College Navigator and College Confidential and looked at all the numbers to see if there were schools that we should add or subtract from our lists. We looked at scores and cost of attendance and also grad. percentages. The kids liked Unigo for info as well.

My eldest dd had no idea what she wanted to major in so we looked at schools that had fairly well-rounded liberal arts. She wanted an active dance program so that winnowed our lists further. She was Natl. Merit so, we looked at schools with good honors programs and good merit aid. She applied to large and small LACs and some state schools. Then one day, she decided to apply Early Decision 2 to a school (and a surprising choice at that!). She got in. Aid was great, that was done.

My youngest dd was determined to go to a school no farther than 20 min. from the beach. She did not want a cold climate. She also wanted and active dance program. We did a lot more internet searching (we watched many videos) and visited just a couple of schools. She chose 10 to apply to (local state uni included). All the ones she applied to seemed to be a good fit test score-wise, three were definite reaches (she did not get in). We visited most places that she got into. She chose the one that will be the most messy financially for her and us but, it felt right for her, the minute we got out of the car. (This happened with eldest dd's school as well) (Ahhhh Mother's Intuition.....neither child had selected their ultimate choice when they were looking....I found both schools and felt a tingle???? )

The biggest thing that I took away from the whole "counseling thing" was to talk freely and listen to each other and make the process fun. It is an exciting time and enjoying the process and its ups and downs make for great bonding moments between parent and child.

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  • 2 months later...

I've really enjoyed reading through this thread. Your stories are so helpful. As a brand new homeschooling mom I'm curious as to how many of these college success stories are from children who homeschooled all the way through high school?

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I've really enjoyed reading through this thread. Your stories are so helpful. As a brand new homeschooling mom I'm curious as to how many of these college success stories are from children who homeschooled all the way through high school?

Not mine...

 

I started homeschooling oldest at 9th grade and middle from 7th grade (youngest from 5th, but he went back for high school by his choice - not mine).

 

I do know there are some (perhaps many) on here who homeschooled the whole way through.  Hopefully they'll chime in.

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I've really enjoyed reading through this thread. Your stories are so helpful. As a brand new homeschooling mom I'm curious as to how many of these college success stories are from children who homeschooled all the way through high school?

 

I didn't post any college success stories in this thread (at least I don't think I did.  ;)   I'm to lazy to go and look.)   But, my kids have all been homeschooled all the way through.     I consider our homeschooling yrs a success and more importantly, I believe my older kids do as well.   They have all been more than prepared for their personal goals.

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I've really enjoyed reading through this thread. Your stories are so helpful. As a brand new homeschooling mom I'm curious as to how many of these college success stories are from children who homeschooled all the way through high school?

 

My earlier reply was in post four above.

 

My daughter did homeschool throughout high school.  She began homeschooling in 7th grade.

 

Regards,

Kareni

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I've really enjoyed reading through this thread. Your stories are so helpful. As a brand new homeschooling mom I'm curious as to how many of these college success stories are from children who homeschooled all the way through high school?

 

I believe everyone who posted on this thread homeschooled all the way through high school -- it is the starting grade that varies.    

 

I myself started homeschooling when the oldest was a 7yo 2nd grader and the youngest just in preschool, and didn't stop until they left for college.  

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I've really enjoyed reading through this thread. Your stories are so helpful. As a brand new homeschooling mom I'm curious as to how many of these college success stories are from children who homeschooled all the way through high school?

My son that has graduated college was homeschooled all the way through high school (he started hs in 5th grade). My next one has been hs all along. He will be in 12th grade this fall. For us, hsing high school has been a great way to keep the family close, to ensure the kiddos get a personalized education, and to help launch confident kids into the world of college & beyond. I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

 

Brenda

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Thank you, ladies. All of the friends I know IRL who have homeschooled have sent their children to a private high school for the last two to four years of their journey. My intention right now is to homeschool all the way through high school graduation, but I do worry that acceptance to a good college will be more difficult coming from a homeschooling environment. It's nice to see other homeschoolers with real stories of college acceptance and success.

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 but I do worry that acceptance to a good college will be more difficult coming from a homeschooling environment. It's nice to see other homeschoolers with real stories of college acceptance and success.

I worried too - esp when I pulled my first out at 9th grade.  In the end, both of my homeschooled for high school guys did better than their ps peers (those at a similar level academically before I pulled them out) when it came to acceptances and/or merit aid.

 

My youngest who is currently starting his senior year (and applying) is now the one I worry about.  He is equally as bright as his brothers, but now has lower scores than they did... that won't help when it comes to merit aid.

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While I've helped 2 into college, my "counselor hat" is not sitting too well with the other 2 boys.  My youngest, in particular, is headed down a much different path than his brothers.  He's motivated to look into schools and degree offerings, but he is getting a little obsessed with the prestige schools.  He isn't Harvard material LOL!  He is an excellent student and maybe a prestige school for an advanced degree might be in his future but not for an undergraduate.  I went to the IPEDS site that Jane listed in the first post and have a question (this is where my counselor hat doesn't fit - interpretation of some of the data):  Here's the admission information for a certain school:

 

  Number applied                      Number admitted              Number enrolled                           Full-time                     Part-time 

Total                                             2,641                                1,791                                         351                              0

Men                                              1,325                                  845                                           181                              0

Women                                         1,281                                  946                                            170                             0

 

 

Should it bother us that so few enrolled who were admitted?  This is a college named in Colleges that Change Lives and it sounded very interesting to me (my son wasn't so excited, but I think I can bring him around).  My only experience with the other 2 boys is our state university and a private LAC nearby.  They just didn't apply to other schools because they knew where they wanted to go.

 

Edited:  well, shoot, the table didn't translate over in the final posting.  I'll see if I can sort it out.

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Should it bother us that so few enrolled who were admitted?  This is a college named in Colleges that Change Lives and it sounded very interesting to me (my son wasn't so excited, but I think I can bring him around).  My only experience with the other 2 boys is our state university and a private LAC nearby.  They just didn't apply to other schools because they knew where they wanted to go.

 

Edited:  well, shoot, the table didn't translate over in the final posting.  I'll see if I can sort it out.

 

This is a guess without seeing the chart - but many students, particularly those looking at selective colleges, are now applying to eight or more schools so it makes sense that many students who apply will choose not to enroll. The percent of students who are accepted that choose to enroll is called the yield. Those super tippy top reach schools (Harvard, MIT, etc.) have higher yield percentages. But, once you get past those reaches it is very common for schools not to have high yield. Many things play into this including financial aid, prestige, and geography. Geography is particularly important for the non-prestige schools as students are more likely to seriously consider a school they visited before they apply and they are more likely to visit schools that are located close to other schools they want to visit. There are some of the Colleges That Change Lives schools that are disadvantaged by not being by another similar schools - Hendrix is an example.

 

If you ask students why they are happy at a particular college nobody is going to say high yield so I don't think it really matters a lot. I'm more interested in a couple of other statistics. One is retention rate - do students return for sophomore year. And, graduation rates - do students graduate in four years.

 

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Does this mean the graduation rate in 6 years?

Which in this case is 68%

 

Graduation rates within 150% of normal time to program completion: 2011

 

This is one of the craziest things in college now. We all think of college lasting four years, right? But, at many schools so few students finish in four years we now talk more about the six year graduation rate. So, at that college 68% of students have earned a degree from that school within four years of when they started college. 32% either transferred to another school or dropped out of college (or transferred and then dropped out).

 

If you are interested in why students don't graduate on time, I'll save myself some typing and link to a blog post I wrote on the topic. This is a really important topic to talk to kids about because not graduating on time brings huge additional costs.

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This is one of the craziest things in college now. We all think of college lasting four years, right? But, at many schools so few students finish in four years we now talk more about the six year graduation rate. So, at that college 68% of students have earned a degree from that school within four years of when they started college. 32% either transferred to another school or dropped out of college (or transferred and then dropped out).

 

If you are interested in why students don't graduate on time, I'll save myself some typing and link to a blog post I wrote on the topic. This is a really important topic to talk to kids about because not graduating on time brings huge additional costs.

 

Great information. JUst want to add:

If you want to evaluate the information "68% graduation rate" to see if it has any impact on YOUR student, you should try to find out which of the factors discussed in the article are mostly responsible at the school you are looking at:

does the school have many unprepared students? (I assume that looking at the SAT scores of incoming freshmen is somewhat of an indication of the academic preparedness)

how good is advising? How often do students meet with their advisors? Do they have one advisor throughout, or are they frequently changing?

are there many students majoring in engineering and similar subjects? These studens are often taking semester long coops and internships that delay graduation.

how frequent is it that students can not take the classes they need in oreder to remain on schedule because they are full? How long are students on wait lists? is there a guarantee that waitlisted students get in the following semester?

 

Some of these questions are best answered by current students at the institution; I would nto trust te administration to give me honest answers to the last few questions.

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