Many High Schools have taken on a self-supposed aura as a “college prep school”. Indeed, most parents are more than willing to bestow this upon them. As a result, parents relinquish the responsibility of preparing their kids for college to the teachers and counselors. They think that “how to prepare for college in high school” should be directed first and foremost towards the student, and their children’s guidance comes practically only from the schools. This central misdirection, we believe, is a root cause for the low college graduation rates, crushing student loan Continue reading
Most parents want their children to benefit from a post-high school education, i.e. college. As parents, we want our kids to be “prepared for college”. Yet we know that less than 60% of students attending four-year colleges graduate within six years. Less than 30% attending two-college colleges obtain either an associate’s degree or a certificate within three years. In addition, we observe many households burdened with unexpectedly high amounts of student debt. And of those that who do graduate, we know many disgruntled college grads. Obviously, college preparation isn’t working too well for many families. These results are a call-to-action for parents with kids in middle and high school.
Last week I spoke with a mom whose freshman son attends a local high school. She shared that her son had already visited three colleges via the school. I found that a bit hard to believe. We both agreed – my goodness – isn’t this a bit over-the-top?
Many local schools have created the appearance of being a “college preparation school”. Parents are led to believeContinue reading
On Friday I spoke to a tutor who assists high school students – typically juniors – that are preparing for the ACT / SAT exam. It became evident that she deals with many students who are afraid that their standardize test score will not be high enough for them to earn an acceptance letter. They are suffering from what I call “College Acceptance Angst”; they fear they will not be accepted to their favorite college. The kids are stressed out and the parents as well. At times, the tutor shared, she sees this fear already with kids who are only sophomores in high school.
Here are two tips for parents planning for college with regards to dealing with this anxiety:
Always keep in mind that there are many good colleges for your student. Focus not so much on getting in (the aspect of college access), but on college success – defined as: attending the most appropriate school, graduating in a reasonable amount of time, at the best value and ultimately doing something meaningful related to what was studied. This more differentiated view can be very helpful in creating a proper college selection perspective for your student.
Secondly, reconsider why your student is so stressed out. If the university requires more academically than your child normally achieves, perhaps it is not a good fit. For example: One can earn a degree in marketing from both UW Madison and UW Oshkosh. The academic rigor of attending Madison is, on a whole, more demanding. Both are good schools. Marketing may Continue reading
Earlier this week I talked with a long-time friend and dad whose three kids are now in their mid-to-upper 20’s. All three attended four-year colleges. The oldest studied environmental science and ended up on the seven-year college track to become a middle school teacher. The middle one took a circular path towards computer science; fortunately he is now gainfully employed and enjoys what he does. And the youngest, now 25, is going back to school, having figured out what he might want to do. All totaled, they have a combined 17 years of post-high school education between them and more on the way. In the discussion I can hear their dad repeatedly say: “They have crushing student debt. Our kids did it all wrong.”
As far as the parents are concerned, it is not as if they were absent or not involved, not informed. Their dad has a master’s degree and their mom is an elementary school teacher. They did all the typical parental guidance stuff that one finds most parents doing. Great parents in many ways; but still, when it came to helping their children towards college success, what were they really doing? And now we have to ask: what were they really expecting?
So how can a parents say: “our kids did it all wrong”? Having known them Continue reading