Ep. 21: Advice for the College Application and Selection Process

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“For me, I grew more appreciative of everything I have…I also learned that I am a happier and better person when I am outside and don’t have my phone.”
Charlotte, talking about what she learned on her gap semester in Costa Rica

Charlotte on her “gap semester” in Costa Rica (Fall, 2017)

This week, I dropped my daughter off at her second college (the one she transferred to this year as a sophomore). She has several friends who also decided to transfer schools after their freshman year, so I know her college experience is not as unique as it seems.

On our epic road trip to Colorado, we talked about a lot of things – including her odyssey through the college process, what her friends have experienced, and where she’s ended up this year. We’re calling this her “College Restart” or “College 2.0.” We’ve also had some laughs about what she called her “quarter life crisis,” when she decided, after returning home from her first year of college (which she mostly enjoyed) to transfer to a different school.

College Drop Off, Take 1

College Drop Off, Take 2

Because it’s on the top of my mind (and the only thing I had time to do this week), I decided to interview Charlotte about the college process and talk about what we both learned over the past few years.

In Episode 21, Charlotte and I share some ideas about keeping the whole college application and selection process in perspective. Some of our tips include:

• Avoiding “Naviance” and statistics and instead focusing on which school’s culture, focus, and location might be the best match.

• Beware of going overboard on SAT/ACT prep.

• Apply early (if you know where you want to go), so that you can enjoy the rest of your senior year without stress. Caveat: If you’re not sure, don’t do any “ED” applications (Early Decision, where you HAVE to go to the school if admitted).

• If there is a university that is closer to home (not two or three flights away) that is a good match, why not consider staying a bit closer, perhaps in the same region?

• Consider taking a “gap” year or semester (travel, work internship).

Some of the best learning happens outside of school.

• Don’t worry if you don’t know what you’re doing with your life. Most adults are still figuring it out.

• Get a feel for the culture before you decide! “Talk to people who you like, who are older than you. Visit and really get to know the school and the people.” Charlotte

• Stop asking kids where they’re going to college and what they’re going to do with their life. They don’t know yet (or think they do, but don’t really).

During Charlotte’s junior year, I wrote this post about the process of touring schools.

Here are some other posts I wrote for Charlotte and her friends as they headed off to college:

Conversations Before College: Who You are is More Important Than Where You Go

Conversations Before College: Honest Talk about Alcohol 

Conversations Before College: Preventing Sexual Assault

Keeping in Touch with Your College Student

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