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You can’t listen to the news lately without hearing about the college admission scandal! Although I do not condone the behavior of these parents I certainly can relate to what lengths they went to in order to gain admission for their children. The pressure on students to perform in the classroom, take on leadership positions, volunteer in a meaningful way and excel on admission testing is incredible. It is so easy to get completely wrapped up and consumed in trying to figure out how to do it all and as my son says, “have a life, too”. So I have started seeking college admission resources to help guide my way as a parent helping their teenager navigate through the process of choosing a college.
The college admission process is obviously broken. I don’t know the solution to the broken system but I do know that I am trying to approach the next two years as we navigate the perils of visiting and applying to colleges, as well as trying to figure out how in the world I am going to pay for college, in the least stressful way possible! I have enough grey hair already! For me trying not to be stressed means educating myself and planning ahead as much as possible. Finding worthwhile college admission resources to help us navigate the admissions process has been critical to my mission to stay stress free. Okay as stress free as I can be!
Many of you reached out to me after I posted about two books I found particularly helpful in understanding the daunting task of paying for college so I wanted to do a quick follow up and share a couple of other resources that have been recommended to me. The first was suggested by the college counseling staff at my son’s school, Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania.
Honestly I rolled my eyes at this book when they suggested it. Because in my heart I know that where you go is very important. As a former hiring manager I almost always interviewed candidates from my alma mater. They may not have gotten the job, but I did interview them and often times offered to help them in their job search. Why? Loyalty to my school and knowing the rigor of the program that lead to a degree from this institution. So where you go, does matter.
Another example, in my office of 12 people more than two thirds of the staff all attended my alma mater. Of those that did not, one does not have a degree, one is from another country and the other two are from out of state. Two things played a major role in me getting the position I am in. 1. Referral by a college friend of a friend. 2. My previous work success. Hands down, I know that where I went played a role in shaping my career and where I am today.
After reading this book, I had a more holistic view of college admissions and how choosing a school could impact your future. At the end of the day your child picks a school that is the best fit for them. Maybe that is the giant mega school and maybe it is a smaller liberal arts school. After reading Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be I realized that you really are picking your future, and that is a big decision for any 18-year old! But it also left me with a desire to learn more about some smaller schools for my son. Coming from a private school, he probably would not do well in a mega school environment sitting in a class with 500 students. So I looked for a resource to help me navigate smaller schools. That is when a colleague, who is in a different department in my company who also happened to attend my alma mater, suggested I read, Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think About Colleges. I just started this book but so far I do like the approach and it too has given me a few things to think about that I might not have otherwise.
All in all, with more than 220 employees at my company I would wager that 60% have some tie to my alma mater. So to say, where you do doesn’t matter…well I just have a hard time with that concept. Think about your most recent job search. Did submitting to a posting on Indeed help you get the interview? Or did making a call to a friend you went to college with open a door and lead to landing you an interview? As I look back at my career, I have used my sphere of influence to get an interview with every single position I have held. Every. Single. Position. And more than 95% of these came from my alma mater.
Anytime we talk about college, which is only once a week (see my post on Preparing for College to find out why), we talk about the programs offered, their admissions process, financial aid and the overall fit. We literally pro/con our way through schools. This has helped us determine where we go for official college visits as we start narrowing down his choices for college. We don’t have unlimited resources to visit all of the schools on his radar, but we do try to plan a college visit with our vacations and attend functions with these schools when they have college recruitment events in our city. Yes, now schools want to see your interest in their school and track things like opening their emails, clicking to their website and attending events either on or off their campuses.
As we continue to journey down this broken road of college admissions I invite you to explore these resources we find helpful! If you want to know more about the resources I mentioned about paying for college, see my post on Preparing for College.
In my opinion it does matter where you go! But if you use your resources and network with people then no matter where you go you can reach out to your own sphere of influence. In my case, it was all due to the relationships I built in college. Think about your own career path, then read the books mentioned and let me know your take on it.