By Tim Parros

I keep reading that using a college planner has become more popular than ever, but it seems that this trend has not completely taken off in Michigan as it has in other areas of the country. I attribute this to parents not completely understanding exactly what a college planner does. Most people still believe that their child’s counselor is equipped and has the time to help in the college admission process. While in some schools the student/counselor ratio can be as high as 1/600, we find that even in smaller ratio schools there is still a need for our services. Parents may think they know how to best guide their child but in reality, how much can a busy parent who works full-time and who has not been through the hyper-competitive college admissions process of today know everything about college admissions? The admission processes of today are not the same as they were when parents applied to college 20 years ago. I remember applying to one college – I didn’t even visit and was accepted. Now students apply to 8-10 colleges. In the past decade, acceptance rates at the nation’s top colleges have plummeted by over 50%. The situation has changed dramatically, and understandably, applicants want to gain every advantage. Having perfect grades and test scores is no longer sufficient as Ivy League schools reject over 50% of valedictorians with perfect SAT scores.

My advice is to get as much support as you can for your child throughout this process, and using a college planner could be the best solution for your family. I know from experience that having a team approach is the best way to tackle the admission process.

Here are some quick Don’ts for parents to consider in the college process:

  • Don’t let finances be the driving factor for finding colleges. Most private colleges have a high sticker price but can offer more merit aid to make them affordable.
  • Don’t go on a college visit and overwhelm admissions officers with parent questions. It’s not a tour for you, it’s for you child, so let them speak for themselves.
  • Don’t assume you know it all. Remember that your college experience was long ago and you may have outdated ideas that no longer apply.
  • Don’t apply to one college only–you need a well thought out strategy.

This is a very short list of Don’ts and there are many more just as there are Do’s, that why we are here to help in the college admission process. As the saying goes, “colleges and universities are not admitting the parents.” It’s imperative that the student shows initiative and desire for the type of quality education he/she wants and knows the best way to get it.

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