Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Starting or Continuing the College Conversation with your Teen

We’ve probably all been reading and hearing a lot about finding the right “fit” as your high school student begins investigating colleges.  It’s sometimes difficult to keep focused on researching what schools might provide both the best educational and social environment with all the hype about getting into the most prestigious college.  Just last week when I was advising undergraduate students at
Stanford, a sophomore came to see me about taking a leave of absence.  Although Stanford had been a “dream” school for him, he was feeling more and more unmotivated in his classes with each passing term and was beginning to realize that he didn’t like attending a school so far from home.

So as your teen develops a college list try to avoid saying or even thinking that phrase—“getting into” college.  By carefully choosing schools that match academic and extracurricular interests as well as learning environment, your child will enhance a successful outcome to the college search.
As summer approaches I find myself feeling both curious and impatient about which schools my daughter Lily is adding to her list.  I’m trying to let her approach me with observations and questions rather than pelt her with my own.  However, I think there are a few ways to initiate a healthy conversation.  You might look over the college search books I mentioned in an earlier blog post for suggestions. 

Also, I recommend a book called College Admissions Together: It Takes a Family by Seven Goodman and Andrea Leiman.  It contains helpful role plays and exercises you can use to begin to let your child take on more independence and responsibility in this process.  The first exercise in chapter 1, “Role Reversal 101” is particularly effective in helping different family members appreciate one another’s perspectives.

Don’t forget the role of high school guidance and college counselors as well as independent college consultants in the process.

*If you’re considering enrolling your child in one of my essay writing workshops later this summer, here’s a special early enrollment discount until June 10: write “College Blog Special” on the registration form and take $15 off the tuition price for a total price of $285. 


  1. I'll have to pick up a copy of that book- my oldest son is currently looking at colleges in PA and is having a bit of a hard time narrowing down his choices. Thanks for the insight!

  2. Your college finder Conversation information continue for in my college search...I'd like really this helpful information...students are choose and fit the best college..So Thanks for sharing your information...