FAQs for Parents of College-Bound Teens
1) How can you help my high school student?
2) What do you mean by positioning?
3) The college process is so intensely competitive today, it is really stressing out my teenager. How can you help?
We also help families determine realistic college targets from the outset. We license a powerful tool to create a realistic college list, the Betterton Evaluator™. Our understanding of the current college admissions marketplace gives us a valuable third party perspective to share with families, which is more helpful in determining targets than nostalgic, outdated notions from decades ago. Rather than heightening a student’s anxiety with messages that he or she “must” get into a certain tier of schools, we emphasize fit, thriving in college, and ultimately pursuing a career that will be meaningful for that individual.
4) My teenager is so busy with schoolwork, sports, and other activities. I don’t know if I can ask my student to add yet another obligation to an already hectic, stressful schedule!
If you start early enough, your student only needs to meet with our team once a month in the beginning. We usually start in January of the junior year, but we can do a preview session earlier if desired. This timing allows self-discovery to fit into your student’s busy schedule in a natural, painless way. It gives your teen “permission” to pause and reflect, think outside the daily grind, and conceptualize one’s accomplishments in a “big picture” way. It allows your student to digest college search experiences, such as campus visits, over a reasonable period of time, to allow for evolution of preferences (which often happens).
As a parent, if you feel that your student is so busy with extracurricular activities that adding periodic meetings with a college consultant is too much to handle, you may want to revisit how busy your student actually is, and whether this is an ideal schedule for your child. After all, the most important factors in a college applicant’s portfolio are grades and standardized test scores, followed by softer factors such as essays and recommendations. Extra-curricular activities do not become critical unless they are tie-breakers for applicants to elite colleges who already have exceptional grades and test scores; activities should never be a substitute for academic performance (unless one is talented enough to be a recruited athlete, studio artist or conservatory musician).
5) I try to explain to my teenager how critical the college process is, but s/he doesn’t care. Why should I bring my student to a college admissions coach when s/he doesn’t show any interest is his own future?
Self-discovery can be enjoyable in a positive in-person context with an insightful, supportive coach who inspires confidence. If the process is broken down into small steps, the task does not become overwhelming. Feeling mastery after each step will help your son or daughter to actually look forward to the next step. Success breeds success! That said, a constructive college counseling relationship does require at least a basic attitude of cooperation on the part of the student. In our initial free telephone consultation, the parent and I discuss whether the student will be able to willingly deliver on assignments, such as essay first drafts. If we conclude that the student’s attitude is not conducive to a productive relationship, we may decide not to go forward.
6) My relationship with my teenager is already strained, and if I even mention college it causes conflict. How can a college admission coach make it better?
If you and your student have serious problems in your relationship, beyond what I would call normal parent-teen tension, you may want to explore the services of a licensed psychologist or family therapist. While I have a background in psychology that enriches my understanding of adolescents and families, I am a college coach and cannot offer psychotherapy. In our initial free telephone consultation, the parent and I discuss the student’s psychological situation and the family relationship as appropriate; if we feel that the student would benefit more from a different kind of service, we may decide not to go forward.
7) Why do I need to hire an outside service, when our high school has assigned a guidance counselor to help my student with college applications?
But guidance departments often do not have the staff to offer the intensive one-on-one personal time that can lead to self-discovery, sort out complex situations, and help optimally position your student for acceptance at colleges that best fit one’s talents, interests, goals and values. It can be helpful to get personal attention from a private source, as well.
8) My student is highly computer-literate. Why can’t he or she just use the high school software and research colleges on the Internet?
Why should applying to college be an intimidating, last-minute struggle, with your student hunched over a computer screen trying to find a list of eight perfect colleges? A coach can guide your child in a calm process, learning more about his or her identity, strengths, preferences, goals, and values. This can ultimately lead to a more authentic choice and place your son or daughter in a more strategic position to be accepted.
9) Does my student need to have a minimum GPA or test scores for you to work with us?
10) If we hire you, will you guarantee that our son or daughter gets into his or her first choice college?
I can tell you that participating enthusiastically in this collaborative process can enhance your student’s chances of identifying and gaining acceptance at a college that will fit well with his or her unique skill set, goals, values and personality.
11) Will you contact the high school guidance department or the admissions departments of prospective colleges on behalf of our student?
12) If we take our student to an outside service, people might think that you’re writing the essays.
13) Do you take charge of the completion of the application forms and submission of test scores? It would be such a relief to simply offload the entire college application process to someone else!
14) Do you provide financial aid counseling?
15) When is the best time to start?
16) How often should we meet with you and what do you charge?