Parents of highscool seniors or college students?

jcrowley99August 21, 2007

Hi! Well school started yesterday in our district and my son is now officially a senior. He already started working on college applications and visited 4 of his top 5 choices (the other is cost prohibitive). But I am already becoming a nervous wreck. Anyone else in the same situation? Or do any parents of college students have any words of wisdom for me?

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Congratulations! Sounds like your son is a responsible kid who will do well in college.

My son is a freshman in college (Georgia Tech), so we were in your shoes this time last year. My advice is first of all, apply now instead of waiting till the last minute. Sometimes it works out fine to wait until the last minute, but sometimes it doesn't.

My second piece of advice is to be sure and apply to an absolutely "safe" school. My son was insulted when I suggested he apply to an absolutely safe choice and he chose not to take my advice. His grades and SAT score were very good, and he felt sure he would be accepted to the colleges he chose. He applied only to the colleges he wanted to attend, and he was accepted to everything he applied for. But he saw that many kids who appeared to be absolute shoe-ins for the two most popular colleges here weren't accepted - kids who had just as good or almost as good credentials as my son. While other kids who had significantly lower SATs (300 points lower out of 1600 points) and lower GPAs got in.

I overheard my son giving some advice to his little sister the other day, and his advice was this: on your application fill out and turn in everything, even the things that are optional. If there is an optional essay, do it.

My last advice is don't be a nervous wreck. Your son will be fine and you will, too. Enjoy his last year at home - it goes by way too fast.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2007 at 9:01AM
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My DD is going on her 2nd year of college. She said the other day that she was glad she wasn't going to be a freshman. The senior year of HS and the 1st year of college can be quite stressful for the kids. The one piece of advice came from an admissions advisor at one of the colleges she visited and it made total sense to me. He said to apply to a college that she could live at home and to leave that possibility open until the last possible moment because he has seen lots of kids change their minds at the last minute and then not have anywhere to go. He told her that most people can't wait to get out of the house but for some kids they are truly not ready and they don't know this until the last moment. So, in our case she applied to a community college (that's all we have here) and did not cancel it until August to be on the safe side. I think for her she knew she could change her mind at the last minute if she wanted, although she never did. Hope that made sense.

Also, apply for scholarships early especially the local stuff. My DD ended up getting over $2,000 in scholarships, most locally.

Finally, don't get suckered into buying everything because it's the last year. Really, you don't need the best senior pics money can buy. In a few years, it really won't matter. I can say that right now my DD senior pics look nothing like her, that's how much she changed her looks while in college.

Finally, tell him to have fun and remember that some of these kids he will never see again and sometimes that's for the best. They say that this is the best time of your life but I think the best is yet to come for him.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2007 at 10:55PM
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My daughter is in her sophomore college but I remember how stressful sr. yr. is for parents and the student. As far as purchasing all that sr. yr. "stuff", ask yourself if it will matter in 5 yrs. if he has it. We passed on grad. announcements, expensive pics, no class ring. I felt the ap courses/college courses offered in high school were a better investment of my money. My daughter applied at 4 colleges; 3 private, 1 state. She was #8 in her class w/ very good SAT scores, etc. Accepted at 3 of 4, the one not accepted very expensive and out of state. Hard on her to realize not accepted but a good life lesson. Visited the 3 schools. Kids usually know right away if they do not like a college during the visit so helps to narrow choices down. She was offered great scholarships at private schools which made cost close to the state college tuition. Decided on the state school, which is considered a public ivy league school, and it's a better school than both private schools. Final factor in decision is that it was a better school and other pluses were that it is a small school, in a beautiful college town close enough to home to come home if she needs to or wants to. That is another thing to consider; can your child get home on a weekend if he needs to. They think they want to be far away but in reality may not want to beand sometimes just need a weekend home to chill and be around those that love him. With all that said, take a deep breath and enjoy his last yr. of high school because it will fly by!

    Bookmark   August 31, 2007 at 11:56AM
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Thank you very much! I think we are following much of this advice already, and it is wonderful to hear that we are following the right track. Mt son is applying to 2 reach schools (although his counselor told him he would have no trouble getting in to any school he applies at, seems a bad thing to tell teens), two state schools (one in-state and one nearby state), and a private school in a nearby state ( not ivy league, they call themselves the ivy league of the Midwest, but definitely not as difficult to get in). The closest is a 2 hour 15 minute drive, the farthest is 12 hours away. He is a realist and , having visited all but the one school, and liked all of them, he is planning to wait to see what type of scholarships he is offered from the various schools (not the ivy schools, neither of them offers merit scholarships, as my son pointed out, how can they, everyone they accept would be deserving of a merit scholarship, being accepted is honor enough) and what level of honors classes he would qualify for. He is planning to study finance and accounting, and has a good understanding how costly college can be.

    Bookmark   September 1, 2007 at 9:25AM
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I have two in college - a senior at a small college in Missouri, and a sophomore (by hours) at the local community college. You've gotten some sound advice here so I won't restate what they've already said.

With one in Missouri (and we're in Southern CA), though, she is hardly close enough to come home for a weekend. BUT....she has Grandma and an aunt who are within an hour and a half from the college. That has been our saving grace as parents - we know that my husband's mom and sister are close enough to get her back and forth as necessary, store things between semesters, and that DD can go cry on her aunt's shoulder if she needs to.

That daughter applied to one college - that one. Frankly, we knew it was a safe bet, because DD has had 4 other family members attend and she had good grades, good ACT scores, and a variety of activities in h er major. (Yes, it was Mom's, Dad's, the other Grandma's, and Great-Aunt's alma-mater.) She ended up with some good music scholarships, too. When she auditioned for the choir director, she cracked me up - she came right out and asked him if she had a good chance of making the top choir in her freshman year. Since my husband and I had both had him as OUR choir director, we hid smiles behind our hands when he responded, "You still have another audition, but you have a good chance, with YOUR gene pool." Afterwards we burst out laughing when we got to the car. (At this school, it's a family interview - particularly when the parents are both alumnae.)

The other one couldn't make up her mind what to do about college, and settled for the community college. She actually started there with a basic math class ("Math 10") as a HS senior, because there was no room in a HS math class to meet the third-year-Math requirement for her. She only takes 12 sem. hours per semester, in her third year, so she's considered a sophomore by hours.

Both were good options for my girls - one loves her college "family", the other is learning something while still living here at home - keep your options open, you never know how the chips may fall -


    Bookmark   September 4, 2007 at 10:28PM
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My son is a junior in HS. He just received an invitation to apply for the National Honor Society. DW and I are so proud of him and think its great.

I was wondering would this improve his opportunity to receive scholarships?


    Bookmark   September 6, 2007 at 7:48PM
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My son is in Honor Society. I don't think it will effect scholarship money, but it will look good on his college apps, especially if he is going to be applying to some of the top honor programs at schools that require a separate app. One of the Honor and Scholars programs my son is applying to (full tuition, room and board, special housing, and extra advisers - wish him luck!) requires a separate app just for the program that includes a separate listing of up to 5 (each) National, State, and local honors or awards. Coming up with 5 National honors or awards can be hard, National Honor Society is one. He has three others he can fill in but has to leave one blank. He did not have any trouble with the local and state honors and awards since he has represented his school on the math team for three years running. Unfortunately their main rival (sister school) has won state to move on to nationals 12 years running. :-( But, there is still this year!

Congrats to your son, I'm sure you are very proud of him. Hope you can take him out for ice cream or dinner to celebrate his achievement!

    Bookmark   September 6, 2007 at 8:03PM
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Yeah, we think it's a good thing to put down on the college apps as you stated. He wants to attend our local state university, and its a very good school. Very pricey though. We're hoping for some academic scholarships. Also, he plays football and track. So, maybe he could get one in sports as well?

The honor society will require him to do some community service. He's not crazy about that, but we're giving him some prodding.


    Bookmark   September 8, 2007 at 8:02PM
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The community service will not be as hard as he thinks. My sons Honor Society only requires 6 hours community service per semester plus 2 hours of tutoring per semester. My son finishes his community service in three weeks or less. He volunteers at least 2 hours per week at COACH House (a respite home for medically fragile children). He does computer work for them, the nurses tell him he makes their jobs much easier which makes him feel really good about doing it. He also does translation work for them. He has been doing this once a week for almost two years. He has also volunteered at the local library.

Your school should have a list of volunteer opportunities for Honor Society members. You can also ask at your local library or hospital. My son found the position at COACH House online at They have tons of volunteer opportunities. Just put in your zip code and they will list opportunities in your area. They tell you what age group they are looking for and what you will be doing. I have seen everything from packing food into baskets, painting, singing or playing the piano, helping with the Special Olympics, working with computers.... almost anything you can think of. Near the holiday season there will be a ton of listings for baking, wrapping, and assisting with parties. I'm sure he will be able to find something he will be comfortable with. When my son first started volunteering when he was starting high school he and his best friend volunteered together, that made it much easier for both of them, maybe your son can do the same. Even if his best friend is not in Honor Society it will still look good on his college apps. if he does some volunteering. Or maybe he already does, then your son could get involved with him!

Speaking of honors, I am so proud of my son! He came home from COACH House today and told us that the volunteer coordinator had told him she was putting his name in to receive the President's Volunteer Service Award for being a top volunteer and putting in more than 100 hours in the past year. He is thrilled because it counts as a national award on his one college app. We took him out to lunch at Carrabba's.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2007 at 10:07PM
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jcrowley99: Sorry for the slow followup.
Congrats on your son's award. Sounds like he really deserves it!

My son will put his volunteer service time in at my daughter's elementary school. He sent an email to several of my daughter's teachers offering his services and they welcomed the help. So as soon as football season is over, he'll be helping out after school.

Anyway, we're still waiting to see if he will be accepted by the honor society. The induction is Oct 7th.

Congrats again, and thanks for the info.


    Bookmark   September 18, 2007 at 8:50AM
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Volunteering at his sister elementary school was a great idea. My son does most of his volunteer work on weekends, between homework and clubs (and chores and college apps) he does not have a lot of time to spare on weekdays. Good luck to your son, let us know he does with Honor Society.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2007 at 9:31AM
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Good luck to your son, let us know he does with Honor Society.

Just got word today my son was accepted in the National Honors Society! We're very proud of him.


    Bookmark   October 4, 2007 at 9:44PM
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Congrats! Make sure you bring your camera to the induction ceremony. ΓΆΒΊ

    Bookmark   October 4, 2007 at 10:07PM
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See if your high school has a Career Center. They have ALL the info on college entrance tests, fee waivers, financial aid, colleges, etc. They also know all the deadlines.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2007 at 3:38AM
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Congrats! Make sure you bring your camera to the induction ceremony.

We captured the entire program on video. Over 70 kids were inducted. Mostly girls!

They have ALL the info on college entrance tests, fee waivers, financial aid, colleges, etc.

He plans to take the ACT in January. Also, we plan to visit some more colleges in the coming year.


    Bookmark   October 8, 2007 at 10:19PM
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As a parent just starting the college process (my son is a senior in h.s.) I've found that the more organized I am the better. I have folders for any college he seems interested in. I also have a schedule which tells me what he and I should be doing for each month. If I'm calm then he'll be calm. I have seen too many parents putting stress on their kids and my son has told me he is so glad he doesn't have to hear me nag him all the time. Each week I check our list and we are going along okay so far. I just hope it continues throughout the process.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2007 at 9:51PM
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That is a good idea. My son has a folder and a computer file for each of the schools he is applying at. He has finished (except for sending ACT & SAT scores) all but one of his apps, and visited (over the summer) all but one of the schools. He was also lucky that all the schools he is applying at have already visited his high school (last one was on Tuesday) and 3 of the 5 schools have had their meet and greets in our area. I am so glad that we will soon be done with everything but the waiting! Is your son applying early at any of his schools or is he applying regular decision at all the schools he is interested in? Make sure you keep track of the deadlines, one of my sons choices has a November 1st deadline for the top honors program application.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2007 at 10:38PM
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Yeah! My son sent in his Harrison Scholars app today, so no more apps until December. I am so glad to be (temporarily) done with essays and applications. The last school he is applying at is Penn, we'll let him apply if he wants to, and his counselor says he has a great shot at getting in , but I don't need my son to go to an Ivy League school. I just want him to go to a school he will be happy at and get a good education and make some great friends. I'm just happy and breathing a big sigh of relief to have this part of the process behind us. He is already worrying about which school he should go to, I told him to relax and see what happens. Hopefully he can now concentrate on enjoying his senior year.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2007 at 10:27PM
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We visited a local state college this weekend. It seems to be a good school and has the major programs he is interested in. My son is not decided yet on which school he prefers, but it will be a in-state college. We plan to apply for 2 or 3 and we'll make a final decision when the time comes. He is just a junior so we still have another year or so to decide.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2007 at 10:59PM
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My 3 have their bachelor degrees, and the "baby" is just finishing law school this semester. I do think that being happy at the school of choice is key. And with two of my kids, visiting told them if they would like it or not. Moreover, some kids glow in a demanding, competitive school, and others find that atmosphere or the classmates not to their liking.

NHS is good for a few reasons--1) you now have something to list on the Awards Received blank, 2) our NHS gives a few scholarships to its members, 3) the volunteering will also give him something to add to his application and perhaps even provide a subject for an application essay or at least some content.

I discovered all 3 kids coming home a lot more often for weekends their senior years, so being somewhat close makes a big difference eventually. By then, communal living, noise 24/7, dirty rooms, and lousy food have taken their toll. They like coming home, having the peace and quiet of their own rooms, and a clean kitchen with a well stocked pantry to be a little slice of heaven, even if all they do is study all weekend.

Then there are the sad cases of the assigned or chosen roommate being a bad match and they just want to get away for a bit.

    Bookmark   January 10, 2008 at 7:35PM
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Hi there! Have you checked out this great website, Live Video U : College & University Live Online Video Search & Student Guide? I came across it when I was looking for schools for my daughter. It's got interviews with students from tons of colleges talking about their schools. I think it's really helpful to hear from someone who goes to the school your son is considering! It's like an insider perspective of campus life. Plus, it's got lists of colleges and universities broken down by size, rank, state, region, and majors, so whatever you're looking for you can sort your options. It's something you and your son can take a look at and get a sense of where would be best even after doing all the college visits. Good luck!

Here is a link that might be useful: Live Video U

    Bookmark   March 2, 2008 at 5:43PM
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Anyone have experience with ACT prep classes? Do they really help?



    Bookmark   March 3, 2008 at 7:07PM
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My son studied on his own, so did most of his friends. It depends on what type of student your child is. Have your child do anearly test to get a baseline and see how well he/she does, and what areas they need to work on. The ACT will send you a break down (or have it on-line) so you know which sections your child needs to work on. My son got a 33 on his first test so he was pretty much done. The prep classes worked best for kids who initially scored below 28. Kids who scored higher than that on their initial test did not see any significant improvement using the ACT class provided by the school. A few students who scored 28 and then took the class lowered their scores.

After taking the baseline test, try for one of the tests in the fall so there is plently of time for a prep class or independant study, go over the results with your child to see what they need to work on. It really isn't worth investing in the class until you know if it will be any help. Most kids felt the class helped most with the math or science sections, with their reading speed (for slower readers), or just with little tips on how to handle stuuf you don't know how to answer. It does seem like there is not enough time to answer all the questions, but there is. My son is a meticulous reader so he is a bit slow when he reads. I had him get a practice book from the library and do a practice test from each section, timed to see if he could finish. He finished every section with time to spare. The same happened when he took the test.

I hope this helps. Sorry if it is rambling, it is 6:30AM here and I have not had any coffee yet!

Oh, I forgot about the new writing section. Some kids did feel that the class helped them with the essay. My son did not score well on the essay, nor did most of his friends who take honors or AP language arts classes. The kids who took the college prep level classes scored better on that part of the test.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2008 at 7:51AM
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If I remember rightly, this is the month colleges send out acceptance letters. Good luck!

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 8:35PM
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Thanks Sheila! Actually my son got all his acceptances before Christmas. He applied early (or had to apply for some of the Honors Programs early) and was accepted at all his schools. He is currantly trying to decide between Notre Dame, Ohio State (College of Business , Honors, nice size scholarhip, competed in the Maximis Competition to earn more scholarship money, is currantly competing for a place in the College of Business Living and Learning community that is limited to 25) and University of Illinois, Urbana (College of Business, James Scholar -75 kids get that distinction). I think he has decided that he does not want to spend as much money as Notre Dame will cost and is seriously debating between OSU and U of I.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2008 at 8:04AM
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