Tips for the college bound (and their parents)

The Island Now

By Seth D. Bykofsky – The College Whisperer

  1. Five tidbits for college-bound students

– Seek out colleges that are the “best” fit for you, rather than what is “best” for U.S. News or The Princeton Review. Rankings make for fun reading and can offer valuable insight, but students need to do their homework to find colleges that are right for them.

– Apply early. If a college offers Early Action (non-binding), and the student is motivated to have a complete, accurate, and read-worthy application, submit as early in the process as possible. Colleges often fill upwards of 30 percent of the freshman class through early admission programs.

– Search and apply for scholarships. Free money and financial freedom beat out student loans and a lifetime of debt every day! And always submit FAFSA!

– Demonstrate interest. Visit campus (virtually and in-person). Ask questions of admissions (yes, you can email). Request info from colleges you are interested in (they do keep track). Follow colleges on social media such as Facebook and Twitter (everyone likes to be Liked).

– Relax! Don’t sweat the small stuff. And remember, when it comes to the college admissions process, it’s almost all small stuff. With over 4,000 accredited colleges and universities in the United States, you will get into a college that’s right for you.

  1. The most frequent question asked by parents of college-bound students

“Where do I begin?”

The best place to start is always at the beginning! While college admissions is often perceived as a mind-boggling game without any rules, one can find method to the madness if each aspect of the process (the college search, the application, the essay, financial aid) is approached methodically and sensibly.

Remember when applying to college was so easy, even a 17-year-old could do it? Well, broken down into component parts, with the appropriate insight, planning, and execution, it still is!

  1. When and how should parents approach the discussion about college 

Timing varies depending on the student and the circumstances. Some students look forward to planning for college and actually getting into the fray, anticipating their every move (in selecting rigorous course-work in high school, engaging in meaningful extra-curriculars, etc.).

Others, already high school seniors, need to be motivated by more pressing means, as in, “The application deadline is at 11:59. Don’t you think you should get started?”

Find a happy medium with your child — or go for that contented extra large. When the college discussion is just that, a conversation, something that is perceived to be enjoyable and worthwhile, students will be more inclined to pick up the ball and run with it.

  1. Factors to consider when choosing a college

-Fit (academic, social, cultural)

-Costs (always consider affordability)


-Interests (sports, clubs, fraternities)

-Location (Close enough to come home for the occasional weekend for Mom’s cooking and clean underwear, yet far enough away so that your parents don’t show up unannounced at your dorm room door on any given Sunday).

-Return On Investment, summed up not in earnings, but rather, by the one true measure of success, whether in college, in career, or in life — happiness!

  1. The parent’s role in the process of applying to college

Mentor. Advisor. Advocate. Above all, parent. Offer sage wisdom on the one hand. Keep mouth tightly shut, on the other.

Try to find what works, much the way you’ve managed the day-to-day through the first sixteen years. Do keep in mind —  this is the student’s college application, not the parent’s. The student should be doing the legwork in researching colleges, writing essays, applying for scholarships, and, ultimately (within parameters as may be set by parents), deciding which college to attend.

Throughout the process, it remains the parent’s role to advise, suggest, encourage, support, and, when the going gets tough (as it may when faced with deadlines, awaiting decisions, or handed a deferral or rejection), to provide comfort and relief.

The College Whisperer is a trademark of College Connection, official sponsor of college admission success. Find us on the web at

Share this Article