3 Tips for Parents In The College Admissions Experience

Brennan Barnard and Rick Clark are the co-authors of the book “The Truth about College Admission: A Family Guide to Getting In and Staying Together,” . This wonderful book is a practical resource for families who want to approach the admissions experience in a thoughtful and balanced way guided by unity and purpose, rather than getting caught in the games and competitive focus on status.

The book describes how select schools with far more applicants than spots embrace a holistic admissions approach rather than a numbers-based formula that admits on GPA and test scores. In the holistic approach, which the authors acknowledge is imperfect, admissions staff handcraft a freshman class of students with varied backgrounds, interests, and talents by going beyond scores and grades.

In this interview with the authors, they encourage parents to reframe college planning and application as an experience for their student & family, rather than a process to endure. They share 3 tips for parents during this stressful few years:

  1. Everything in high school does not have to be about college. Setting a limit to how much you talk about it - and commit to sticking to it.

  2. Focus on the why & how of your student thriving in college, rather the where of colleges on their list. Too often college lists are fraught with anxiety and disappointment when students or parents insist there's just one ideal campus.

  3. Don’t talk college to too many fellow parents of your teenager’s friends. Instead, seek out parents of college students & college grads, asking them what college & beyond was for their children.

The authors suggest a way to test yourself in terms of overly invested in your child’s college search: ask yourself do you ever catch yourself saying, “We’re taking the SAT this weekend” or “We’re looking at Vanderbilt.” Barnard and Clark encourage parents to consider an experience of college planning and applications that might come with a sense of opportunity, even joy.