2020 Intentions for Families in the College Process

I can see clearly now the rain is gone…

Expect if you’re applying, have applied or are a younger family thinking about applying to college, it feels like a whole thunderstorm that’s looming overhead.

College is scary. It feels impossible to get in. It feels like everyone is getting A’s, are in AP classes and that one kid you thought would get into a highly selective school didn’t, and now you think…well it’s over.

Whatever grade level you’re in in 2020, I challenge you to keep these intentions as you think about college. At the end of the day, getting into college is not the end…actually it’s just the beginning. The beginning to giving yourself the opportunity to thrive for the rest of your life. An opportunity to be curious, try new things, change majors, fail, get up and ultimately graduate. Here are my intentions for you:

My SAT/ACT test score does not define me.

Really. The SAT and ACT is one academic component in your college application. A helpful indicator for colleges to gather more information about how you’ll preform in the first year of college at their institution. Each college has a range of average SAT/ACT scores, a ballpark to guide you, but they will look more to your high school transcript for grades, class rigor and the types of courses you chose to take that were accessible to you.

Spend consistent time studying for the SAT or ACT (either one is accepted by ANY university BTW) and take the exam, maybe take it again, 2-3 times at max, and then move on. Dedicate time to your classes, studying, your extracurricular activities or even…sleep! Also, no one will ask you your SAT score beyond senior year…they just won’t. Take a breath, take the test, and move on with your life.

“I heard” is not a valuable reference or resource

I heard statements beginning with I heard are 100% correct all of the time. Nope! Not at all. Your mother, your aunt, your neighbor, your classmate will all tell you things that are rooted in truth, but get so twisted and are based on one experience that is so specific it RARELY applies.

Use reputable sources when looking up admission statistics, how to write your essays, strengthen your application and what to do if you are deferred or wait-listed from a college. What do reputable sources look like?

  • Books! Yes books. The Fiske Guide, Princeton Review, College Admission: From application to acceptance Bonus: they never lose their charge
  • Directly from the college website itself. Research majors, classes, professors, research going on, guest speakers, admission data, financial aid information including Net Price Calculators that let you estimate aid from that specific university, know your regional admission counselor to help you through the application, etc.
  • Online websites. There are so many, so choose 2-3 that you like and are reputable (NOT blogs by students or families giving biased, off-hand advice) CollegeXpress is one of my favorites.
  • Your counselor!

I will NOT graduate from a college with a bazillion dollars of debt

College is one major stepping stone in your life, but it’s is not one that should anchor you down with mounds of debt after you graduate. Especially if you plan on med school, law school, grad school, etc.

  • If you’re a senior, read your financial aid award letters carefully and apply for local scholarships from your high school and community (you’ll have a higher chance of winning!!) Meet all of your deadlines and really crunch the numbers for the next four years before you commit to a college by May 1, 2020.
  • If you’re a younger family, you can estimate what a college will expect your family to pay by knowing your Expected Family Contribution number.
  • Use Net Price Calculators on individual university’s websites to get an estimate of what that college will offer you. (Simply search Net Price Calculator on the college website’s search tool)
  • Check out sites like Raise.me to earn money while in high school and MyIntuition.

I will create boundaries with my family surrounding college

Have a day where you DON’T talk about college. Know when you have a massive test at school when to put your college talk or college apps on the back burner. Just set it and stick to it!

I will remind myself that this is MY journey

Remember, at the end of the day, you will be the one sitting in your dorm room and heading out to class at whatever university you choose. So make sure it’s one that fits your personality, your learning style, what you want to study and has student groups you can connect with. What do you value?

  • Curriculum (think about what classes are required, how they structure their majors)
  • Advising (how much support would you like? Tutors, counselors, career services, all people to help you put the pieces together while in school!
  • Student groups (religious organizations, spirit, clubs, teams, etc. What do you see yourself joining or doing at school?
  • Location, size, feel of campus (tour colleges!!)

2020 is your year. I can feel it. The year where you set judgement aside and turn everything back to you and your goals. You got this!

Published by Casey Barneson

Author of The College Wellness Guide. Beverly Hills High School College Counselor.

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