Enjoy the moments, Dream Big and Embrace the Change

CONGRATULATIONS!!! You are the proud parent of a high school student. You and your child have made it through all the challenges those middle school years bring and your child is finally in the home-stretch of their secondary education. But with this big shift, comes big changes. Namely, the world of college prep.

I know you are thinking, “Wait, it was just yesterday that they were born and I was holding them in my arms, rocking and cuddling them. How has time flown by so quickly?” Now they are in this ever-changing, overwhelming part of their lives where getting into college takes over. Over the next few years, you will see your child transform before your eyes.  High school students are on a journey of their own, they are growing up and finding out more about their dreams and goals for the future. They learn to drive, go on their first date, start and making decisions that will direct their future paths. And with each passing year, they become a little more independent.

This is part of the growing up process. But never fear, just because your kid doesn’t need you to make their sandwiches anymore doesn’t mean you can’t still be a super parent! They are going to need your guidance for one of the biggest decisions of their lives: college.

It is during this wonderful time as a parent that you get to make some of the greatest memories, ones which you and your child will cherish forever.  I know what you are thinking, “How am I supposed to do that? College is around the corner, the admission process is competitive, it’s expensive and I want my child to have the best opportunities possible.  What can I do to help them, make sure they are getting the best advice and guidance possible?”


The biggest thing to remember is that you are the passenger on this journey. I understand how difficult that is for us as parents— after-all we have been in the driver’s seat for years.  Having gone through this process, myself with three different children, I get that. But it’s important to understand that letting them make their own decisions is part of their transition into adulthood. We have to remember that our child will be living, eating, studying and attending events on the campus they attend, not us —that is why it is important that they are in the driver’s seat. We need to give them the freedom to veer off what we perceive as the “charted course” and explore their options.


As you read this, it may be difficult to let go of being the one in control. Just remember, as the passenger you get to be the guide, the one who helps them through traffic jams, reads the directions, navigates the rocky terrain, and the one they turn to when the rubber meets the road.

Create A Digital Portfolio:

Admissions counselors want to see that a student has been pursuing their passions since before applying to college. A great way for your child to showcase their pursuits is with a digital portfolio. Work on creating one together! This is a great opportunity for you to help your students archive all the things they are going to do by taking pictures, videos, saving those awards and special projects that you love some much. Help them compile the info into an attractive package that will catch the admissions counselors eye.  Having all this in one place will save you and your teen from the headache of searching and trying to remember it all when it comes time to apply.  Create a digital portfolio where it is all stored and when they are ready it is at their fingertips and you will enjoy going through the memories together.

Find colleges that are close by and take a campus tour. Or if you are taking a family vacation, throw in a college visit.  If your child loves sports or the arts, attend a college event, so they can get a sense of what the programs will be like. This allows your child to begin thinking about the college experience and determine what qualities they want in a university setting. Try visiting a variety of schools and programs — big and small, public and private, so when the time comes they have a base point to go off of. Just remember, these initial visits do not have to be your child’s dream college. Keep it simple and easy for the two of you to enjoy the experience.

Help Them Find Balance:

Teens today have so much pressure to take every AP or Dual credit class available all while being a leader in 20 different organizations. Oh and did I mention that they might start a non-profit, business, research project or internship while they are at it? All of these things are important and help a student build their college application but it can also cause burn-out if they don’t know how to balance it all. Fortunately for them, YOU are your teens biggest advocate and supporter.  If you see them putting so much pressure on themselves it unhealthy or being stressed out all the time, intervene. It’s ok to give them permission to take a break or not be the best at everything. You can even suggest doing something fun and non-academic related together, as a way to blow off steam.

Reject the Rejection Letter

Getting a rejection letter from a college can be a difficult blow.  Especially this year with a college admissions scandal in every major newspaper, it may seem that the process is rigged or unfair to the core.  You may wonder, “Why was I not accepted? What else could I have done?”

The answer – nothing.  College admission is competitive and some rejections are part of the process.  Although the recent exposure of an admissions scandal has shocked the country, at its heart the college admissions process is made up of individuals who care deeply about students and the universities they represent.  You put your best foot forward with your application, and admission officers have done their best job to choose a class that fills the needs of the college.  Unfortunately, not everyone who applies will be accepted but that doesn’t mean that your application wasn’t given a thorough review.

You can call the college to ask for more information.  They may be able to shed some light on your decision – how many applications did they receive, how many were accepted, what was the profile of the students who were admitted, etc.  Although it’s not likely to change your decision, sometimes understanding the facts can help soften the blow.

Additionally, writing a “Reject the Rejection” note for yourself can be a good way to tame your inner thoughts.  This is for your eyes only – do not send this letter anywhere.  Refer back to it as needed for your own self esteem boost.  Here’s a sample to get you started:

I was shocked when I received the rejection letter from [xxxx college].  Then I realized I’ll be happier attending [yyyy – college you plan to attend].

I know [xxxx college] receives more applications from qualified students than they can admit.  Unfortunately for you, you did not recognize the reasons I will be successful freshman like…




It’s too bad for [xxxx colllege] that you won’t have me as a student.  But I’m happy I’ve been admitted to [yyyy] because…




I can’t wait to get started there

Take Action

Focus on the positive and all the options you do have.  Begin to connect with the college that you will attend, join their private student-only FB page.  Connect with your future classmates, sign up for orientation, and consider attending one of the freshman camps they are offering.  All of these things will make the transition much easier.

The Unfair Truth About The College Admission Process

Many of you have heard about the recent college admission scandal which broke earlier this month labeled the “Varsity Blues” FBI Investigation. My heart was saddened to hear about wealthy individuals who felt the need to lie, cheat and steal their children’s way into specific colleges. All of this is to the detriment of many intelligent, talented and well qualified applicants. The corruption and deception being carried out by some of America’s most elite, self-serving individuals has rocked our faith in the college admission process. I want to address some of the bigger issues that are at the heart of this crisis.

Parents want their kids to have the best opportunities possible. To that end it is easy to get caught up in the hype and prestige of a specific college. That is why it is important that we address the elephant that has been in the room for several years now. I have watched this elephant get bigger and bigger year after year. What is that Elephant you ask? It is the competitive nature of college admissions and why we get fixated on college rankings.

It breaks my heart to know there are students who feel like their entire future has come crashing down around them if they are denied acceptance into a specific school.  They believe their chances of success have been derailed and there isn’t any hope they will ever achieve their dreams. How did this get to this point?  What can we as college admission experts do to change this?

I think it’s vital to emphasize that all the rumors you’ve heard and the articles you’ve read regarding college admissions is true. Acceptance into a top ranked university is extremely difficult. Many of these schools accept less than 8% of their applicants, while others have acceptance rates as low as 3%. Also, several openings at top state universities are designated as automatic acceptances for qualified in-state students. This makes the competition for those remaining positions even more competitive.

Studies are showing a progressively large number of students both in- and out-of-state being denied by their top choices. The crazy reality is that we have more high school students graduating with perfect GPAs and near perfect SAT/ACT scores than ever before. Also, many have also started businesses, non-profits, or participate in research projects many of us would love to do ourselves. Even with all of these incredible achievements on their applications, students are still being rejected.  

  • The number of high school graduates applying to college has increased dramatically, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. In 2018, 19.9 million students attended college, versus a mere 15.3 million in the year 2000. By the year 2027, it is projected that 20.5 million students will enroll in college.  
  • Students are applying to more colleges than ever before. They know that even if they apply “Early Admission” to their dream school, there is a chance they won’t be accepted. So, it only makes sense for them to apply to multiple colleges in hopes of being accepted to any college they would be happy attending. 
  • The belief that having a “big name” school on their resume can somehow ensure a student a job post-graduation, drives the admissions process. Sadly, this is not completely true. A college degree from any school translates to the job market and will only support their job application after they have proven their skill, experience, and drive in their field. The most unfortunate side to this false idea is the desire for bragging rights. Parents and students alike are guilty of this one. The euphoria of telling someone about yours or your child’s acceptance to an Ivy League school can be dangerously addicting.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am certainly in favor of getting a great education and having the opportunity to explore the world and your passions. Several of these top-ranked universities provide their students with a world-class education and experiences beyond anything that was available just a few years ago. Students who are able to meet the academic standards of a particular university should definitely apply. The issue arises when a parent or student is applying to a school for the wrong reasons. Every application season, we see highly qualified students gaining acceptance on their own merit as well as denials to these universities.


 There are multiple reasons why working with a college admissions expert is beneficial. When we discover that there are people cheating the system and taking spots away from deserving kids, it makes us angry and breaks our trust in the system. Unfortunately, there will always be people who think they are above the law.

As college admissions experts we have to ensure that we don’t let a few bad apples ruin opportunities for those who choose to do things the right way. There are a number of outstanding college admissions experts who are helping their students walk through the front doors of their dream schools, versus sneaking in through a side door. There are many innocent faculty members, counselors, coaches and administrators at these universities were are just as shocked as you were with the recent revelations. It is a flawed system, and those of us who are in the field are working to improve the process while guiding parents and teens through the process.I have been coaching students for several years and this generation deals with more pressure to succeed than any that have preceded them. The things they are able to achieve, the technology that is at their fingertips, and the tragedies they see happening all around them have a profound effect. They feel the full weight of the pressure to succeed. I strive to help teens find their passions. What makes them tick? What natural abilities and talents do they have, and how can they be used to further their college experience, education, career, and their life as a whole?

If you are the parent of a college-bound high schooler, my best advice is to take a step back, breathe, and trust that your teen will find an amazing school where they will thrive. Start early and plan ahead, a well-thought plan is more likely to be successful.