High school seniors and their parents are in panic mode in the first half of senior year, making the following 10 mistakes:
1. No colleges have been selected, well, maybe two or three that friends have mentioned. Friends? Should my senior be listening to what their friends have to say about where to apply?
2. No colleges have been visited, no "comfort zone" of a right-fit college has been established yet. Shouldn't my senior have a "feel" for what kind of environment will work best, where they'll survive and thrive?
3. No high school student resume has been created. No unique way to present my senior's strengths in a college interview. Will I have to answer college interview questions? Or, how do I get a desired interview if the college doesn't allow for one?
4. No college planning checklist of things that have to be done and when. How do I create one?
5. No teachers selected for recommendation letters. No special strategy on what the writer should limit his remarks to. And to avoid looking like every other letter that is nothing more than a list. What do I ask for?
6. Strategy on what to consider when choosing a college. Am I supposed to have a strategy?
7. Strategy on choosing a major in college. I thought college was for taking time to figure that out. No?
8. The five most common writing mistakes students make in their essays. Wait! How would I know that?
9. Of all the good college essay topics, no topic has been selected. What is considered a "good" topic? What topics are off-limits? Gee … there are topics that are off-limits?
10. Strategy on getting more financial aid in case you get an offer of some aid. How do I do that?
Parents who hire a professional college admissions consultant have already covered these bases. My clients have been in "training" with me for the past year or two about the equivalent of their first jump at sky-diving, and the door is about to open at 5,000 feet.
I'd be in a little panic myself right now – that's only human. But my clients have been well prepared for this "senior moment," and things are going to be just fine. That's compared to those who are at the same open door at 5,000 feet above ground, looking down in panic and wondering, "What do I do now ?!" And their strategy is to "gut it out," and "hope for the best."
And they don't have a professional instructor to whom they are attached to make sure the jump goes smoothly and safely. They don't even know where the rip cord is, but they'll be asking their barber or hairdresser for the answer.
My clients are okay. Their friends aren't. That's really too bad. Who loses? Denial will be in full operating mode when their senior is in college for 5 years – there's a 63% chance of it – and students of my clients will graduate in four and several in 3 1/2 years. And no one will take any blame because the cost will be enormous (the cost of one more year of college + one full year of lost income).
Ultimately, it's the student who loses, and loses big: bigger debt and lingering doubts about future career choices.
And to think that these mistakes could have been avoided.