What Are Your Admission Requirements?

Recently, someone asked me what has changed at Georgia Tech since I started in the early 2000s. Almost everything it seems. When I arrived, our undergraduate student body was a little over 11,000—compared to almost 18,000 now. The parking lots that littered the interior of campus have been replaced by green space or pedestrian walkways, and as a result golf carts, bikes, scooters, hoverboards, longboards, unicycles, and mopeds are the predominant wheeled devices/vehicles on campus. “Online” was literal, you needed a physical key to enter buildings, and the Atlantic Coast Conference included nine teams- all of whom were close to the actual Atlantic Ocean.

From an enrollment and admission standpoint this is also true. At that time, Tech’s first- year class was just over 2,000. In 2022, our transfer class alone will push 1,400 with another 3,700 students beginning as first-years. Our application count was lower, our admit rate was higher, and as a result our review process, admission timeline, and staff structure all looked radically different than today.

What has not changed is the fundamental question students ask—”What are your admission requirements?” READ: Please just tell me clearly and plainly what I need to do/have to get in?

There was a time when I could (and did) answer, “Sure. Get a 3.7 GPA, 1300 SAT, write a few lines on your essay, do some stuff outside the classroom, and we’ll see you in the fall.”

Now, you simply cannot give a purely quantitative answer, because GPAs are not uniform across schools, states, etc. With an applicant pool of 50,000+, it is the very rare applicant who has below a 3.7 GPA. Certainly, a big part of this is due to rampant grade inflation in our state and beyond. But it is also because the traditional 4.0 scale (extremely common two decades ago) is the exception now. At that time, 4.0 was perfect and you could not exceed it. Now, due to the weighting of courses and the proliferation of grading scales, providing any specific number as a minimum or requirement is misleading at best.

For instance, we recently looked at the 256 students who applied last year from a large public Atlanta Metro high school. 192 (75%) had above a 4.0 GPA. I have visited schools with GPAs evaluated on scales of 5.0, 6.0, 13.0, as well as others abandoning numbers entirely for narratives, graphics, or emojis. Tell a student with a 10.2 GPA they need a 3.7, and they’re thinking, “Yes! My Cs are really paying off now.”

This is why, when you ask what seems like a very simple and logical question, “What do I need to do/have to get in?” (especially of colleges receiving far more applications than they have spots available in their class), you’ll inevitably get long-winded answers, passionate hand motions, and at least two mentions of “holistic.”

What are your admission requirements?

Unlike my early days at Tech, I cannot give you two numbers or a formula. But I can still make you a promise. I can still tell you what you will need to do/have in your college admission experience (and your future college career) to be successful.

 DO Keep an Open Mind

As a senior, especially one reading this blog, you are inevitably receiving an absolute crap-ton (forgive the highly technical language) of information from colleges. Emails, brochures, postcards, and increasingly more invasive modes of communication (ads in your feed, text messages, pop ups of varying kinds) on a daily or weekly basis. I completely understand how this deluge of marketing material could seem annoying, but I’m imploring you see it instead as encouraging and broadening.

Even if you have never heard of a college that mails you something in the weeks ahead, take the time to open it. Be willing to examine what you see, read, hear- and consider what interests you or does not resonate. Ultimately, the willingness and openness to new ideas, and the earnest consideration of places, people, ideas, that are not familiar is not only the sign of a good college applicant, but a great college student too.

In my experience, the students who end up the most disappointed by the college admission experience are those with a fixed and limited mindset- those who are trapped and myopic about the idea of one place, one kind of place, or one definition of “good” or “best.” Conversely, students who finish their senior year satisfied, gratified, and confident in their college choice are often not the ones who got into their top choice or had a completely smooth experience. Instead, they acted like students in the college admission experience—they thought deeply, committed to a dynamic mindset, and were willing to question and test assumptions or information they acquired along the way.

What is required in college admission (and college as well)? An open mind.

HAVE a Support System

Go to almost any admission information session or listen to a panel of admission deans/directors talk for five minutes and you’ll hear a lot of focus on YOU.

They will say: YOU need to own this process.

They will say: We want to hear YOUR voice in your essay (not your mom’s, your best friend’s, or the one you paid for from some purported expert online or down the street).

They will say: Do you own work, think for yourself, and figure out why you care about going to college, pursuing a particular major, or anything else a college advertises or touts as a selling point.

I agree wholeheartedly. However, all of the talk about YOU can dilute how imperative it is as a college applicant to surround yourself with people you know and trust.

Over the course of the next year, the likelihood is you are going to face some disappointments, dark days, and bad news when it comes to comes to your college admission experience.

Perhaps this will be as minor as angst over your essay topic, having to wait months for decisions, or being deferred or waitlisted by colleges. For some this comes in the form of an admission denial, or not receiving adequate financial aid/scholarships to afford a school you want to attend.

The truth is college will bring more of the same. Inevitably, you will have classes, relationships, internships, exams, or situations that will force you to question yourself, your decisions, and your abilities. Good times, right?

There is no panacea here. But when it comes to keeping perspective; when you need to be reminded of who you are and the value you bring; when you need encouraging words to help you bounce back or try again, your support system will be critical. True as a college applicant- true as a college student.

So, I want to encourage you to highly limit what you share on social media about your college admission experience. Instead identify two or three people you can consistently talk to and walk with through applications, decisions, consternations, and celebrations.

What is required in college admission (and college as well)? A solid support system.

What are YOUR requirements?

Let me flip the question. Instead of asking what a college requires of you, ask what you require of them. Take time to write down and consider the types of programs, environment, support systems, etc. that you really want or need. Clarifying your requirements will be far more valuable than obsessing about admit rates, rankings, number of benches, or squirrel/deer to student ratio.

My hope is you will resist the prevailing urge to quantify and distill college admission into simple numbers. Instead, DO keep an open mind, HAVE a support system around you, ASK what you require of colleges, and I promise your college admission (and actual college experience) will be far more rich, meaningful, satisfying, and transformative.

What you need to know about Admission Deadlines

Listen to the Q&A about this blog on the College Admission Brief podcast: Apple | Spotify | Spreaker

Yes. I understand it’s summer and just hearing the word “deadline” is annoying at best. Congrats on just opening this one up.

Yes. I have heard you are supposed to title articles “Top 5 Things…” or “Do’s and Don’ts about…” in order to get clicks, improve shares, and entice readers and drive analytics.

Yes. I realize an entire blog about “deadlines” likely falls into the same bucket for most teens as texts or reminders about cleaning bathrooms, writing physical thank you notes, and getting up early for no particular reason on a Saturday.

So, if you happen to be reading this by a pool or ocean or in some other lovely setting, feel free to stop now and simply bookmark this one, or put it into a subfolder titled “college admission,” “crap someone forwarded me,” or “stuff I’ll read later.”

But a few promises since you are still with me. First, I promise I’m not asking you to do anything specifically right now. Second…actually, there is no second. Let’s just boil this down to the basics.

Here is what you need to know about admission deadlines.

  1. Deadlines are about Institutional Priorities.  If the term Institutional Priorities sounds familiar, it is because we have covered these talking about mission statements and admission decisions. Colleges have goals for their size of class, shape of class, and profile of class (academically and financially).

The truth is application deadlines are driven by the same philosophy- how and when students apply is 100% about helping schools achieve their mission.

Example: The University of California System, which includes some of the nation’s best public universities, has an application window between November 1 and November 30. Is that time period the most student- friendly for kids from some parts of the country or world in which November is the most academically intense? Nope. But the deadline exists because it works for the California System schools. Period.

As my friend and colleague Pam Ambler from Pace Academy here in Atlanta says, “The way admission decisions feel (read: emotional and personal) is not how they are made (read: all about a college’s goals and priorities).” You can put deadlines in the same bucket.

2. Deadlines are about competition.

I’m guessing when you are considering colleges, your focus is on distinguishing one from another and determining if you are a good match or fit for that place- and it should be.

Colleges, however, are very concerned about one another. They compare size of class, academic and geographic profile of class, as well as admit rates, yield rates, and so on.

We are not going to go down a rankings rabbit hole today, but suffice it to say boards, presidents, and systems are extremely cognizant of what the others are doing in the higher education ecosystem, and the decisions of one often impact many. You’ve seen this play out in the test optional conversation very publicly in recent years.

The bottom line is colleges set their deadlines with a keen eye toward who they currently are, or aspire to compete against.  If you are a sports fan of any kind, none of these actions or thought processes surprise you.

Example: If a school provides students the opportunity to apply in the summer before senior year, or well before most schools set their deadlines in October and November, you can be assured they have traditionally been losing students to other colleges and their deadline/timeline to apply is now set in response to the desire to win more. How? Because if you apply early and that school begins doing interviews or ultimately gets an admission decision out well in advance of other colleges, they can court you earlier and longer than their competition.

There is nothing wrong or nefarious about this. And there are benefits to getting an admission decision back early and knowing you have options. But where does that deadline come from? A direct competition strategy to increase academic profile, likely financial profile (less needy students tend to apply earlier), and potentially also decrease admit rate while increasing yield—because if they get earlier commits, they can admit fewer students later in the cycle.

3. Deadlines are about Financial Aid

Most people don’t think about how admission deadlines directly relate to financial aid and the cost of enrolling a class. Instead, most articles center on Early Decision and whether it is abusive, ethical, or how to strategize around it. (But most articles don’t start by acknowledging their titles suck either now do they?) The timing of admission applications absolutely impacts the way schools dole out aid, as well as the amount they have at various times of year to enroll their class.

Example: If a school has an Early Decision deadline, as well as multiple additional deadlines (ED I and II, plus EA; or EDI and then months later another ED opportunity; or ED, EA, another oddly titled deadline, etc.), you can be sure they are both need and profile aware. In other words, they are attempting to receive early commits from students who have the financial ability to pay, even if they forego later applicants who have a higher academic profile.

1+2+3= Admission Deadlines, A Case Study

This is fresh on my mind right now because at Georgia Tech, we recently set our first-year admission deadlines for next year.

  1. Institutional Priorities: As you can see, our Early Action I deadline is established for Georgia students. Why? Because as a public school, Georgia students are a priority for Georgia Tech. Although only 20% of the students who apply to Tech are from our state, 60% of undergraduates hail from the Peach State.
  2. Competition: Our number one overlap for in-state students is the University of Georgia. As a result of increasing application volume, the size of our admission team, and the holistic review process we use, we were releasing admission decisions in mid- January. This not only put us behind UGA, but also several weeks after most of our Top 10 overlap schools as well. Adjusting our EA1 deadline allows us to release Georgia student decisions prior to the Winter Break.
  3. Financial Aid: Our Regular Decision deadline is in early January. Is this the most optimal time for students? No. For many reasons late January or even early February would be my preference. However, due to application volume, staff size, and a holistic review process, we set our deadline in order to be able financially package students in a timeline more closely aligned with other colleges.

What does this mean for you?

First, deadlines matter to colleges, so they need to matter to you. As we have just established, they are set for a reason– and that reason involves money and competition. Hopefully that gets your attention.

Second, they allow you to plan. Again, as promised, I’m not asking anything from you right now. But if you are going to need teacher recommendations submitted, or a transcript sent, or test scores delivered by a certain point in the cycle, you need to get the deadlines for admission and financial aid of the colleges you are applying to on a spreadsheet or some other workable document– because deadlines breed deadlines.

Third, the timing and names of schools’ deadlines, i.e., ED, Priority, Restrictive, etc., are reflective and indicative of their goals and priorities. You could do some deep digging into Common Data Sets or look over the history of particular schools and how the timing and naming of their deadlines have shifted, or you can just trust me. Take some time (not now, not now) to understand your options and think/ask/read about how those deadlines will ultimately impact admission review and decisions.

So, there you have it- a blog about deadlines. Never thought I’d write one and would be curious to hear what you think about this and other topics. We are beginning to plan out our blog and podcast schedule for the fall, so reach out @gtadmission or in the comments section of our podcast with suggestions and feedback.

Top 5 HS Graduation Messages for Class of ’22, ICYMI…

Listen to Q&A about this blog on the College Admission Brief podcast: Spreaker | Apple Podcasts | Spotify

Over the last two weeks, I’ve attended graduation parties, met with a few seniors about their summer and fall plans, and both attended and spoken at high school graduation ceremonies.

I also know, or have heard from, a few seniors who missed their graduation due to Covid, family obligations, or other commitments.

So, this is for the Class of 2022! Especially those who missed graduation, slept through it, were too hot or scratchy in your cap and gown to focus, were discreetly attempting to solve that day’s NYT Wordle puzzle, or immediately tuned out when the speaker opened a PowerPoint presentation or began with a Chicken Soup for the Soul quote like, “You miss 100% of the shots you do not take.”

As someone who works with lots of high school seniors and first-year college students, here are a few messages I want to be sure you did not miss as you turn the page and start your next chapter.

#1. Congratulations! You did it! I realize some of you may be reading this and thinking, “Well… it’s not that big of a deal. I mean, I always expected to graduate from high school.” But even if it is just momentarily- take it in. We spend too much time and energy in life focusing on what doesn’t go our way, which only serves to bog us down and slow progress. My hope is you’ll be in the practice of celebrating your big and small wins. Now is a good time to start.

So, if you haven’t already, take some time to really reflect on what it took to get here: late nights, hard work, sacrifices, and resilience- particularly navigating most of high school during a pandemic. All of that is going to serve you well in college and beyond.

There is a reason lots of people around you are super proud. Enjoy, embrace, and don’t simply gloss over this milestone achievement.

ICYMI- Congratulations!  

#2. You did not do this alone.

Don’t delete those graduation day pictures (and maybe even frame one for your desk at college). You will want to look back often on the smiling faces of the people who surround you. Parents, guardians, extended family, neighbors, coaches, teachers, and other supporting adults or community members. They also sacrificed, put in hard work, and had tough choices to help you get to this point. Perfect? No. Along the way, I’m sure they made mistakes, second guessed themselves, and have a few regrets. But they love you. They are proud of you. And they are excited to launch you into this next chapter.

This is fist bump, hug, handshake, note- writing season, friends. So, if you have not done all of these things a lot (A LOT) lately, make sure that support system around you knows how invaluable their presence and encouragement has been- and will continue to be.

ICYMI- You did not do this alone.

#3. You ARE ready.

Many students in the summer prior to college, or in their first year on campus, question themselves. Can I do the work? Will I be able to make new friends and re-establish a community away from home? Did someone in the admission office put in the wrong code and accidentally admit me?

If you are reading this blog, I have no doubt you are ready for college. Again, you adapted and demonstrated amazing resilience by handling high school during a global pandemic. Adaptability and resilience are two of the most important characteristics of a successful college student. You got this!

You are up for the social and emotional challenges. You can do the work academically. You have that tremendous support system (see point #2) around you. You are prepared. You are ready for the adventure the next four years will bring.

I’m sincerely hoping your graduation speaker did not say that college is the best four years of your life, because that’s both sad and wrong. They are, however, extremely unique. Freedom, friends, exploration, discovery, and time to enjoy all of that. Amazing! My hope is you will look at this next chapter in that way. Take a class that sounds interesting just because you want to. Learn to unicycle, try an instrument, eat some food you can’t spell or pronounce. Go on a 10- hour road trip to a state you’ve never been in before. Enjoy. Use your skills and talents and all the ways you’ve been equipped to learn and have fun!

ICYMI- You. ARE. Ready!

#4. You ARE NOT Ready.

Don’t get too cocky, my friend. There is no way you can be fully prepared for everything the next few years will throw at you. Some of you will see letters on your first semester transcript (B, C…) that you’ve only seen on an eye chart in the past. You may not make the team or be selected to the organization or club you are hoping for. Big break-ups, failed internships, best-friend betrayals… and that’s just first semester.

Even worse you will inevitably have a night or two when you are scrolling through posts from friends with big smiles, good food, and obnoxious hashtags like #bestdayever or #livingmybestlife.

Everyone. EVERY ONE. EVERYONE has those days and moments. It’s not just you. We all question ourselves, doubt our choices, and wish we could just…

This will happen. And when it does, my hope again is you go back to #2. Keep those graduation pictures close. Reach out to the people who love you and know you the best when you need them the most.

One of the biggest mistakes first-year students make is not reaching out to campus support as quickly as they should. Students languish academically or socially, when all the resources they need are just a building or two over, or a text/phone call away.

You have not made it this far by yourself, and there is no way to enjoy or succeed in college or life beyond with that mentality either. Reaching out for help is a strength not a weakness. Don’t try to do it all by yourself. You don’t need to. It doesn’t work—and it’s no fun anyway.

ICYMI- You ARE NOT ready.

#5. Remember Graduation Day

My hope is you will make an effort to build a college career (and a life in general) that looks a lot like graduation day/season.

  • Put yourself in situations that make you smile, and regularly celebrate your accomplishments.
  • Reflect regularly on what habits, patterns, traits have helped you achieve, enjoy, and thrive
  • Real, honest, authentic friendships are hard to come by. Make an effort to keep up the ones you have established.
  • Congratulate others on their successes and achievements (even when they have more stoles or sashes around their neck than you)
  • Look ahead to the next chapter/week/month with anticipation, confidence, and excitement
  • Surround yourself with people who know you, love you, and support you.

ICYMI- Remember Graduation Day!

Congratulations, Class of 2022! Proud of you.

Transition Tips for Parents and Families

This week’s blog is from Georgia Tech’s Director of Parent & Family Programs, Laci Weeden.  She shares helpful tips for parents and supporting adults on how to navigate the transition from home to campus. Welcome, Laci!

Learn more and listen to Q&A about this blog on the College Admission Brief podcast: Spreaker | Apple Podcasts | Spotify

As high school graduation approaches, many parents and supporting adults are already thinking about next year with a combination of excitement, trepidation, optimism, and uncertainty. While knowing precisely what the months and year ahead hold, it will unquestionably be a period of adjustment.

Although your role and the dynamics of your relationship will unquestionably shift, you have a unique and important role in partnering with colleges to ensure your student’s success.  We encourage families to stay connected while also allowing space and time for students to develop and grow in their new environment.  Like so much of life, this is a delicate and ever-changing balance.

I like to think of the transition from high school to college like a tandem bicycle. When your student was younger, and their feet didn’t even reach the pedals, you steered, pedaled, and determined the path and destination of the bike. As your student grew, you began to feel them pedal and you listened as they shared their thoughts on the journey.

Now that they are ready to head off to college, it’s time to switch seats. Your student is now on the front of the bike and ready to take the lead, so naturally your roles will begin to switch as they steer their own course, find their own path in life, and pedal hard toward their goals and dreams. But don’t forget, you are right there on the bike, too – pedaling, supporting, and cheering them on!

Here are a few tips to help your student and your family with this transition.

  • Establish and agree upon a time to catch up and check in with your student before they leave for college.
  • Be happy and excited about the new college experience. If your student knows or can sense that you are worried, they are likely to be less confident.
  • Send care packages and cards from home, they love cookies!
  • Listen closely- sometimes beyond the words they say.
  • Encourage them to work on time management and create good study habits.
  • If they struggle, remind them that they have your support, but encourage them to find solutions on their own when possible.
  • Offer advice, not demands. Remember that your student is an emerging adult who will need guidance, but not commands.
  • Remind them to utilize all the resources around them. (And you feel free to reach out to campus resources yourself, if you need support.)
  • Encourage them to take advantage of campus and local opportunities.
  • Encourage your student to get exercise, eat healthy, and sleep. Health and wellness are critical to satisfaction and success.
  • Remind your student that you are proud of them, you trust them, and you love them. They really do need to hear this from you as some days are just hard.
  • Know that both of you will change and grow. You will probably find that a rewarding new adult friendship will emerge as they get into their second and third year of college and beyond.
  • Help any family members at home with the transitions, too. For some younger siblings, the transition can be confusing and a bit lonely. For parents and guardians, you will need to make some adjustments to a variety of things such as household chores, grocery shopping, and computer maintenance.
  • You have a new role as a parent and family member of a college student; you are becoming a mentor. Seemiller and Grace (2019) stated that Generation Z views their parents as trusted mentors and “eighty-eight percent say they are extremely close with their parents” (p.94). This is a shift from when Generation X went to college due technology and the ways we communicate, differing parenting styles, and the rising cost of college (Sax & Wartman, 2010). Your student will be dealing with adult responsibilities and challenges, and you can serve as a trusted advisor in this process.
  • College is a time to let your student take all the good advice you have shared with them over the years and put it to the test. When your student succeeds, celebrate with them! When your student struggles or is in pain, listen and offer support. Asking open ended questions will encourage dialogue and assist in their adjustment to campus life.
  • Your student will be developing critical thinking skills, learning from people who are different from them, and learning to be a global citizen, all while their brains are still developing. Provide your best care and support when needed for those challenging times and use the campus support resources available to help your student develop a plan of action and to develop resiliency.

As you well know, parenting is not an easy role. But you have done an outstanding job helping your student get to this point. Ultimately, as they transition to college, try not to worry too much. Trust the advice, values, and support you have provided. They’re going to do great- and so are you!

Sources

Sax, L. & Wartman, K. (2010). Studying the impact of parent involvement on college student development: A review and agenda for research. In: Smart, J. (eds) Higher education: Handbook of Theory and Research. (25) Springer.

Seemiller, C. & Grace, M. (2019). Generation Z: A century in the making. Routledge.

Learn more and listen to Q&A about this blog on the College Admission Brief podcast: Spreaker | Apple Podcasts | Spotify

 

Be A Good Partner

Learn more and listen to Q&A about this blog on the College Admission Brief podcast: Spreaker | Apple Podcasts | Spotify

Last week my wife and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary, so the parallels between love and admission have been on my mind lately.  

Do I acknowledge some portion of readers will be bewildered by the first part of the last sentence? I do (What can I say? I married a patient woman). 

Do I appreciate another portion of readers will be moderately disconcerted by the latter part of that last sentence? I do (What can I say? I’m a romantic).  

Do I understand the ring on my finger is older than the final portion of readers? I do (What can I say? Oh… I’ll tell you. There should absolutely be an award or club at the 20-year mark for people still wearing their original wedding band).  

Anyway, we had a great trip, good weather, amazing food, and precious time together to look back– and forward.  

When I really think about where I have succeeded and fallen short over the last two decades, and when I consider what I want to focus on in the years ahead, it is extremely simple- BE A GOOD PARTNER. Easy to say, but often challenging to live (and love) out.

After watching the admission cycle repeat itself for those same twenty years, and speaking with hundreds (thousands?) of families during that time period, BE A GOOD PARTNER is also my hope for parents/supporting adults of high school juniors who are looking toward their admission experience in the year ahead. 

BE A GOOD PARTNER 

  1. Stay Curious. While Hollywood may portray relationships as full of passionate professions or grandiose statements, real love is often most sincerely expressed through asking questions. As your family receives mail from schools, visits colleges, or as your student talks about particular universities, one of the ways you can best engage, support, and partner is by persistently seeking to understand.

The families I’ve seen most enjoy their experience- and those who have grown closer not further apart through college search and selection- are those who let go of thinking they need to have all the answers, control the process, or attempt to steer things in a particular direction. Instead, they embrace this as an opportunity for discovery and exploration—and a journey together. Be vigilant about asking questions and really listening to answers.  

Will all of their responses satisfy you in the moment? No. Just like any marriage or other partnership/relationship in your life, you should expect gaps, delays, awkward silences, or even incoherent/illogical/indecipherable utterances.  

Easy? Definitely not. You know from experience this will demand energy, persistence, tenacity, and patience. But you also know unity, growth, and ultimately understanding is realized through a fierce commitment to learning- and learning comes from staying curious. 

2. Money matters. April is money month in college admission. No, it’s not “Hallmark official,” so nobody is celebrating with cards, .gifs, or hashtags, but since financial packages are on the table and deposits are due at many schools in early May, families of seniors are currently weighing options, comparing scholarship offers, and considering return on investment between various colleges.

Let me say from both recent and annual experience: April of the senior year is not the time to have this conversation for the first time!! (Yes, that warranted two exclamation marks).  

Being a good partner means opening the books and talking honestly and openly with your student about paying for college BEFORE they ever apply. Communicating clearly and transparently about how much you can pay, will pay, or are able to pay in the context of your other goals, pressures, and priorities is essential. Some of the most awkward and painful family dynamics I’ve witnessed (and gently excused myself from), have come when parents/supporting adults have not been clear about their financial limits and rationale, until after a student has been admitted/bought the hoodie/posted on social media that they are in and think they are all set to attend to their “top choice.”  

My hope is you will understand it’s not only ok, but absolutely critical to establish conditions or limitations, and expectations about finances. Setting these ranges with clear explanations provides clarity– and as you well know as a parent, love often necessitates setting boundaries. More on all of that here.    

  1. Celebrate. Look for opportunities and creative/unique ways to celebrate your student in the months and year ahead. First college visit, first application submission, and every acceptance!

The world spins too fast. It takes intention, discipline (and yes, love) to be a good partner. So hit pause and be consistent about lifting up the successes, milestones, and opportunities your family will experience.  

You know your student the best, so consider how they most feel appreciated, supported, and seen, and lean into their love language. If you create a pattern of celebration, they will be confident that your pride in them is not about an outcome, but rather engagement, effort, and shared experiences.    

  1. Schedule and Protect Time. We all live busy lives filled with obligations and distractions. And all of us have seen in other relationships that if we are not intentional about how we invest our time, the tyranny of the urgent takes over, important conversations are rushed or severely delayed, and we lose sight of priorities.

As a result, too often parents/supporting adults unconsciously default to broaching college at unexpected and inconvenient moments (car rides, breakfast, on their way up the stairs) that lead to students shutting down or seeming/being unconcerned, annoyed, or frustrated.  

College should be a conversation. And like any meaningful and healthy conversation, it is best when it’s intentionally scheduled, and everyone is prepared and focused. I’m encouraging you to protect, prioritize, and facilitate this by setting aside time each week to discuss college, including details, deadlines, choices, etc. Perhaps that is an hour each Sunday or the one night each week nobody has practice or another obligation. This is your time to plan, evaluate, research, or weight options and decisions.  

Outside of that time, my hope is you will not let college talk dominate or dilute your time, conversations, and bigger relationship. More on all of this here.   

  1. CHECK your ego.  If you are married, have been married, or are in any kind of lifelong partnership/committed relationship, I am guessing I really don’t need to keep writing. We all know how critical this is, as well as the damage that can be done when we are unwilling to adjust, shift position, compromise, listen, and—in the case of college admission- remember who is actually going to college.

As adults we have hopes/dreams and desires for our children. That’s natural, and in fact a manifestation of love. But being a good partner means consistently checking in on our motivations, ensuring our words and actions are sincere and earnest, and keeping perspective. Too often adults fool themselves into thinking where their student goes to college reflects on their parenting acumen. The truth is how they go, and the condition of your relationship when they go, is the real indicator of success.  

Here’s to you 

The morning after our anniversary, we woke up and toasted (coffee) to the next twenty years. Inevitably, we’ll continue to make plenty of mistakes in our relationship, but we are committed to continuing to learn, work, grow, and love each other uniquely. The fact that you read this and considering how you can be a good partner in the college admission experience is a gift.  So, cheers! Thanks for being committed not to perfection but to progress. Thanks for being a good partner!   

Learn more and listen to Q&A about this blog on the College Admission Brief podcast: Spreaker | Apple Podcasts | Spotify