We are big fans of Frank Bruni – the long-time contributor to the New York Times and author of Where you Go Is Not Who You’ll Be, about the college admissions mania.

We reviewed some of the articles that appeared in the New York Times and highlight some of the best reminders for college parents who are aiming to navigate the college admissions maze. In one 2014 article titled Promiscuous College Come-Ons, Bruni does a great job of reminding us to recognize when colleges may actually be flirting with your son or daughter.

He states “In our increasingly status-oriented society, a school’s reputation is bolstered by its glimmer of exclusivity and by a low acceptance rate, which can even influence how U.S. News & World Report ranks it. And unless a school is shrinking the size of its student body, the only way to bring its acceptance rate down is to get its number of applicants up. So, many colleges methodically generate interest only to frustrate it. They woo supplicants for the purpose of turning them down.”

In our discussions with college-bound families, it is not uncommon for some students to submit applications to 15 or more schools. This contributes to the growing cost of college admissions for families and distorts the actual competitiveness of schools.  Enabled by the electronic Common Application it has become easier than ever for students to cast a wide net.  Our advice for parents is to place come boundaries on the admissions process.  a) discuss the criteria that are vital to your student’s success in college b) discuss what schools your student has a realistic opportunity of being admitted to and c) student and apply to less than ten schools – we often suggest 3 stretch schools and 4-5 realistic schools.

Our advice for parents is to place come boundaries on the admissions process.  Three suggestions we make to all college-bound families:a) discuss the criteria that are vital to your student’s success in college b) discuss what schools your student has a realistic opportunity of being admitted to c) discuss how much you can afford to pay for college and the degree / major and d) student and apply to less than ten schools – we often suggest 3 stretch schools and 4-5 realistic schools.

So the key for college parents as advisors and coaches to their students is to recognize when a school is flirting.  The 2014 article quotes Kay Rothman, director of college counseling at the NYC Lab School, in Manhattan saying “There are places like Tulane that will send everyone a ‘V.I.P.’ application.” She told me that she routinely had to disabuse impressionable students of the notion that they’d won some prized lottery or been given some inside track.”

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