Ramona weighs in on SAT prep, choosing schools and other aspects of preparing her daughter Avery to go off to college in the fall.
I play many roles in my life — wife, businesswoman, entrepreneur — but the most important has always been a mother to my daughter, Avery.
As a senior in high school, Avery is in the midst of one of the most important and exciting time periods of her life — applying to college. When my husband and I began this journey with Avery, we quickly realized that the application process can be difficult to navigate, but it doesn’t need to be. I’d like to share some of the things we learned that can help your student find their own path to success. There was never a question in my mind that Avery would attend college, but it’s been a long road to prepare her for this point. Keeping in mind the increasingly competitive nature of colleges today, we always encouraged Avery to get the best grades possible. Even if it doesn’t mean getting an A, you can teach your child the motivation to always try her hardest.
The process begins
As Avery entered high school, we discovered how quickly the college application process starts. As early as her sophomore year, Avery starting taking the national standardized tests, the SAT and ACT. We then hired a tutor to help her with certain difficult subjects. If you don’t have a tutor in mind, you can always search the internet for local tutors. Another option is to use training books and have your child take practice tests regularly to help improve their scores.
The importance of extra-curricular activities
If your child is not a strong test taker, there are other ways for them to show colleges why they are a great candidate. Avery is a strong leader at school and is very involved in volunteer activities. She used the common and supplemental essays in her applications to highlight these qualities and activities, such as when she organized the largest book fundraiser ever at her school. Avery is also well-spoken for her age and is comfortable conversing with adults, making the decision to have her attend personal interviews with college representatives an easy one. Whatever your student’s strengths are — grades, involvement in school clubs, or music talent — make sure that they stand out in their applications.
Narrowing down the choices
During Avery’s junior year, she worked with a college advisor to determine what kinds of schools she was interested in based on factors like the colleges’ size, location and tuition.
By the end of her junior year, she narrowed down her list to 12 schools (most advisors recommend applying to 10 to 12 colleges). These included safety schools that she knows she will get into, mid-range schools, and reach schools that would be harder for her to get into. If your child doesn’t have a college advisor at school, there are online resources that can help you figure out what schools are appropriate based on your student’s standardized test scores.
A summer abroad
Since Avery has always lived at home, we wanted her to get a taste for college life before the big day arrives. She went to Oxford University in England the summer prior to her junior year, where she experienced campus life and attended courses taught by college professors. She also attended a summer program at an American University prior to her senior year. This was a great way to help her transition from home to college life, which can be intimidating for many young adults.
And now we wait
Since most college applications are due early in the year, Avery is nearly done applying and is now anxiously waiting for answers from schools. During this waiting period, we are trying to help manage Avery’s expectations and make sure she knows that where she ends up going to college will not decide the rest of her life, but it will be the experiences and skills she gains that mean the most. Remind them that some of the most successful people have graduated from state and community schools.
No matter what schools Avery is accepted to and which one she chooses to go to this fall, I always let her know how proud I am of everything she has accomplished and what is yet to come. When I drop her off at her freshman dorm later this year, the one piece of wisdom that I’ll make sure she knows is to believe in herself, because that is where her she will find her success.