College applications: Beyond test scores and competition
College applications are a grueling and competitive process for your child, and expensive tutoring and high tuition can break the bank. Providing perspective and advice is just as invaluable as footing your student's bill.
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SAT tutors in the Boston area can charge up to $200 an hour to prep a kid for “the test.” I’m glad I don’t live in the New York metropolitan area. SAT tutors in the Big Apple charge up to $425.00 an hour. In a New York Times article reporting on the fierce competition for perfect grades in high school, an anonymous parent at a tony private school in New York admitted to paying up to six figures in a given year for extra help in regular school subjects. That doesn’t count the steep tuition she already pays. I think my husband may be sitting on a pot of gold. Over the years he has saved us a bundle by tutoring our children in everything from calculus to biology.Skip to next paragraph
Judy Bolton-Fasman is an award-winning writer who writes about parenting and family life for the NYT Motherlode Blog and the Jewish Advocate. Judy's work has appeared in The New York Times, the Boston Globe and O Magazine. She is writing a family memoir and blogs at The Judy Chronicles. She lives outside of Boston with her husband, daughter, and son.
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Ferguson is at his wryest when he talks about the kitchen people – the folks who gather in the kitchen at a party to share war stories about their kids applying to college. In these clandestine conversations a parent would rather reveal the annual family income than her child’s SAT scores or GPA. Speaking of SATs – this is a test originally administered after the First World War to veterans with college aspirations. Somewhere along the line, the SATs garnered the power to make or break a college career.
I could go on about the U.S. News and World Report college rankings. This is the list that admissions offices love to vilify yet secretly pray for a top 20 spot. There’s the college essay, which demands an epiphany so wise, so rare, that most 17-year olds simply don’t have the emotional maturity to have earned it.
In the spring of junior year, usually with a guidance counselor and with grudging parental input, a student creates “the list” of schools to which she might apply. The list is usually a mix of colleges for which a kid is a leading candidate and schools that are designated as “a stretch.” As a parent, you may look at up the admission statistics for your alma mater and shake your head in wonder at how you ever got into college.
At the core of every college application, job interview or personal relationship is the fear of vulnerability. Yet it’s vulnerability that gives us courage and compassion. Vulnerability begets connection; it keeps us honest. Vulnerability is important to show whether it be in the college essay or the alumni interview. Be human. You are multi-dimensional. And yes, you are not a test score.
I can remember Anna telling me that she didn’t need a campus full of valedictorians to feel academically fulfilled. During the process, she was also also wise enough to demonstrate to her mother that lists, whether it the US News & World Report or the college lists she generated, should be used sparingly and mostly for things like groceries.
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