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Should Parents Worry About College Applications?

Posted Oct 11 2010 3:01pm

I  agree with the newspaper article’s final sentence. “‘Parents need to separate what their kid wants from what their (the parents) dreams are,’ Wrubel says.”

But the rest of Jackie Burrell’s article, “ With college applications, parents are going a little crazy ” ignores the reality of today’s workplace that the San Jose Mercury News documented in 2007.

That article is no longer available. Here is my original post: Does It Matter Where Your  Son or Daughter Goes to College.

To recap, Mercury News reporters interviewed the recruiting staff from several big name companies here in Silicon Valley. Surprise! The recruiters all said that they recruited at Ivy League and other top schools EXCLUSIVELY.

The corporate recruiters were brutally honest. With limited time available, recruiting only at the top schools made it easy to find highly qualified candidates “like shooting fish in a barrel.” It just took too much time to find qualified candidates at other schools.

Parents who work at these companies know that this happens. One mom who graduated from MIT told me, ” Those letters (MIT) on my resume helped me get interviews even 20 years after I graduated.”

Every parent wants their children to succeed. Hence the anxiety over college applications and getting into the “right” college. Can some parents put too much pressure on their kids to get into certain prestigious schools without regard for the goals of the kid?

Absolutely! There needs to be some restraint.

But, the message from educators, “It doesn’t matter where you go to college, ” is misguided. I found that out the hard way.

My parents wanted me to stay within a strict budget for college tuition. Mom and Dad were leery of filling out the financial aid applications. So, after graduating from high school, I enrolled in a public college 10 miles from my home.

Now, I came from a strict, all-girl high school that demanded we work hard.  I never went to class unprepared.

Imagine my shock the first week of school. I was stopped outside history class by another freshman (male) who told me I needed to back off. I was making him look bad. And, he wasn’t alone in his feelings.

Before the end of my sophomore year, my college advisor had convinced my parents that I was at the wrong college. I transferred successfully to a larger public institution about 60 miles from home.  Not once did another student ask me to “dumb down” in class.

Instead, they challenged me to learn more and study harder.

What I Want For My Sons

It has already happened for my older son. He got into a really terrific university. His high school counselor didn’t provide any guidance whatsoever.

So my husband and I worked with our eldest to put together a list of colleges and make college visits. At times, our normally capable son seemed unable to make decisions or take action. We nudged him to get past his fear.

By the end of March of his senior year, our oldest son had acceptances from several great schools. He made visits alone to his two top choices. I had to sign a special waiver so he could stay on his own at a hotel—he was under 18 at the time. Then, our son made his final choice.

In his first week at college, he was a bit intimidated by the caliber of the other students. “These people are amazing!” he marveled.

Right away, he noticed that there were recruiters from every top company in America on campus. He also noticed that even here at home, people paid attention to him more when they learned where he went to school. There seemed to be friendly alumni from his university wherever he went.

No, I didn’t stick a decal from the university on the back windshield of my car. It’s not about me.

Now, my youngest son is applying to colleges. Like his older brother, our youngest had trouble getting started selecting schools. He didn’t really want to visit college campuses. My husband and I did some nudging.

“You know, Mom, I think I can see myself here,” my youngest commented as we walked around a campus in Southern California. At that moment, I knew he was on his way to finding his perfect college  situation.

He still has to submit the applications and write his essays. The first one is due November 1. He has chosen a great list of quality schools. Now he needs to follow through.

Yes, I will worry until those college apps are submitted. Once the apps are in, I’ll breathe easier.

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I did not receive any compensation for mentioning companies in this blog post. Here is our  full disclosure policy.

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