Say 'no' to college admissions creep
My guest today is college admissions consultant Bruce Vinik, president of Vinik Educational Placement Services, Inc., in Cabin John, Md.
By Bruce Vinik
No. This term doesn’t refer to the dean at Yale who decided to reject the application of your all-but-perfect-daughter. Rather, it refers to the unfortunate way that the college admissions process has crept into the lives of students earlier and earlier in their high school years.
It wasn’t long ago when students didn’t get serious about finding a college until the summer before twelfth grade. When I began my college counseling career in 1991, it was almost unheard of for students to visit campuses over spring break of junior year. Outside of reading through a guidebook and taking a spring SAT, most kids were happy to delay the onset of college madness. And yet somehow they managed to do all of the things they needed to do to get into college. In fact, many of them are successful, upstanding citizens today.
Over the years, as college admissions has become more competitive and many of us (parents, counselors, admissions officers, the media) have made getting into the “right” college a national obsession, we have encouraged a shift that isn’t healthy for most high school students.
Too many ninth and tenth graders are studying college guides and websites; too many eleventh graders are taking the SAT and ACT in the fall of junior year; and too many adults are feeding the frenzy by encouraging children to grow up quickly in order to impress that Dean of Admissions (who really isn’t a creep after all).
We need to step back a bit and give our kids a chance to be kids and to enjoy their lives in high school. They should have the time to explore their interests both inside and outside the classroom without the constant worry of “college” hanging over their heads. I’m not suggesting that we return to the days when students waited until twelfth grade to begin to think seriously about their college futures. There are simply too many parts to the process to wait that long.
However, I am suggesting that we hold the line when it can still be held -- at the second semester of junior year.
With rare exception, there is no reason why kids should be visiting colleges after ninth grade or taking the SAT in the fall of eleventh grade. In my experience, many of those students who begin the process early burn out in senior year at the very time they need to be most focused on college admissions.
Let’s take a stand. Just say no ... to admissions creep.
See some of Vinik's other posts, including:
*The high school courses students need for college
*How to decide on a college
Follow my blog all day, every day by bookmarking washingtonpost.com/answersheet. And for admissions advice, college news and links to campus papers, please check out our Higher Education page at washingtonpost.com/higher-ed Bookmark it!
| July 13, 2010; 9:30 AM ET
Categories: Bruce Vinik, College Admissions, Guest Bloggers | Tags: bruce vinik, college admissions, college admissions creep, college admissions process, college applications, juniors and SAT, when to start the college application process, when to take the SAT
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