Can you recall the run-up to the birth of your first child, and how so much attention was focused on the expectations related to the act of birth itself?
And then how you and your spouse returned from the hospital and had to change diapers, prepare warm bottles, and man the battle stations for weeks or months on end of restless attempts at sleep?
Maybe your priorities were misplaced. Maybe you were placing too much of your focus on your new child’s entrance into the world and not enough attention on how you would function as a family when you got home.
The college admission, selection and transition processes are not that different from what goes on in birth, infancy and toddlerhood. In fact, just as with child birth and development, perhaps too much time and attention is placed on the beginning of the college process – admissions – with not enough attention placed on the latter stages, particularly your child’s ultimate college selection and his or her successful transition to school.
To be sure, admission to college is an essential first threshold to cross on the higher education journey. If you don’t get in anywhere, you can’t go anywhere.
But let’s face it: despite all the angst over college admissions, it is a microscopic percentage of students who don’t get in to any of the colleges they apply to by mid-April of senior year. And in most states, a high school diploma does guarantee a student the ability to start out in community college, where a two-year degree is attainable and where a performance-based transfer to a public four-year college or university is virtually guaranteed.
So despite the hundreds of millions of dollars spent by colleges on student marketing and recruiting, and by families on college investigating and exploring, and by related entities on standardized testing, tutoring and the like, all that of that time and money rolled together does nothing more than provide an admissions ticket to be punched somewhere.
Once that ticket, or usually those tickets, is/are punched, that’s when the real important part begins. College selection is crucial. Those of you who are parents of current college students are probably realizing that now more than ever. I find there doesn’t tend to be much nuance about how a family feels about the child’s college selection. “Oh, he or she is so happy, University of X is the perfect fit” is often exclaimed and heard by all within earshot. However, also spoken, in more hushed tones usually, is something along the lines, “X College hasn’t worked out that well for (insert name); he/she is going to come home for spring semester at the local community college and then reapply to Y College for next year.”
Intertwined with the right selection, of course, is an effective college transition, which can often be the determining factor as to whether the “selection” is perceived as correct. As Brian Raison, a youth development and researcher at The Ohio State University has pointed out, “Making the transition from high school to college can be one of the biggest challenges in life.” According to Raison, the first-year dropout rate stands at 26 percent nationally. (And remember, approximately 30 percent of high school graduates actually don’t even make it through the campus gates period.) These depressing numbers are what have driven Raison to work with students who have been through this transition to deliver relevant peer-to-peer advice on topics such as new academic challenges, social scene changes, credit cards, budgets, choosing classes, test strategies, roommate woes, safety on campus, talking with professors, time management and more.
So while new academic and social pressures can be overwh elming, the good news, says Ralston, is that “research shows that college-bound students can achieve greater success if they simply know what to expect.”
Sounds familiar, huh? It is for me. My wife and I read “What to Expect When You’re Expecting,” and we were well-prepared to head down to Georgetown University almost 18 years ago for the birth of our first child. But when we came home the next day, with my fists clinched to the steering wheel on Key Bridge, well that was a different story. We had no idea about the storm that was about to hit us. It’s all a blur now, but we collected many sleepless nights, multiple runs to the drug store and countless little battles with our infant and toddler because we weren’t quite ready for that important transition.
Now is the time to make sure that your children are ready for the college transition or, if they are already in college, now is not too late for them to prepare and adjust on the critical transition issues noted above. We stand ready to help you with those issues, as our mission is to empower to best support your children on the path to and through college.