What to never do during the college admissions process

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What to never do during the college admissions process

There are a few things I think it's really important parents not do during this process. And one is to share your opinion of a school with your child before you've heard from your child. For instance, when I visited colleges with my daughter when she was looking at schools, we went to a big urban university in the Midwest that's renowned for having a lovely campus and for feeling like a campus. And we set foot on that, and about 2 minutes in, while I was thinking, this is absolutely gorgeous. Sign me up. I'm ready to go back to school. She turned to me and said, this doesn't feel like a university at all. It feels like a big city. I don't like it. We stayed through the information session. Halfway through the tour, she grabbed me, and we got in the car, and went away. No chance would she go there. A week later, we were at a huge urban university on the east coast that had actually advertised itself as not having a campus. It's part of the city. We went to visit. We were there sitting in this public park having our latte at 8 a.m., and she looks around and she said, this is absolutely what I want. This is the kind of university, the kind of campus feel that I love. And I said to her, literally, do you remember that we had to ask a homeless person to move off this bench so that we could sit her? It didn't matter to her. She had fallen in love. If I had started by telling her what I thought, I might have really colored her feelings. Because I allowed her to tell me what she thought, I thought it was really important. And she ended up finding the place that really spoke to her. So don't share with kids your opinion until you've heard from them. I think another thing is really don't fixate on this. Students think about this pretty much enough. But about 90% of their time, even senior year, is spent thinking about friends and classes and sports teams and movies and the kinds of things that really 17 and 18 year olds should be thinking about. If all of your interaction with your student, your child become about college - what are you thinking today? Have you gotten those applications in? They're not really going to be enjoying their time with you very much. Because they really want to be talking to you about their boyfriend or about a movie that they've heard about, or about how terrible their sports team is doing. So allow them that freedom. And if you absolutely must fixate on it, try to fixate on it just one day a week. Tell them, Thursday night at dinner is our college night. And we're going to talk to you about it. And the rest of the week, let it alone, and let them manage that.
TEEN, Education, Applying to College

View Robert K. Cooke, MEd's video on What to never do during the college admissions process...


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Robert K. Cooke, MEd

Upper School Director

Robert has been in K-12 education for thirty years; for sixteen years he was a high school history and social studies teacher, teaching subjects such as AP US History, Western Civilization, World History, Economics, and Anthropology. His school administrative career has been equally varied, serving as Director of Activities at a large public high school, and a Middle School Director and Upper School Director at independent (private) schools in the Midwest and California. Robert earned his Bachelor's Degree in History from Carleton College, and his Master's in Education from Claremont Graduate University. He is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS), the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS), and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD). Robert has served on school accreditation teams in the Midwest and California. He has two children, one of whom is an acting and English Literature double major at a large urban university on the East Coast, while the other is a high school junior in Los Angeles.


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