New to the Process and to the Group

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Discus: Parents Forum: 2004 Archive - Part 2: New to the Process and to the Group
By Searchingavalon (Searchingavalon) on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 10:43 am: Edit

I've been enjoying reading the postings of what seems to be a generous and closely-knit group and thought I'd introduce myself. My only child is now a high school senior who, unfortunately, has been feeling the college-process pressure for two years. Her high school requires that students take the PSAT as sophomores and tells them to answer yes to the question as to whether they want to hear from colleges, so she has spent a long time reading about colleges and trying to make up her college list. If I had to do it again, I would have put all the brochures into a box for a year. What I did instead was bring home the Harvard Lampoon Guide to Colleges and reassure her that she had a good chance of getting into Yale, as that guide ranked it about 814th... We remind each other of that whenever the pressure starts building again, and that allows us to laugh and relax. For the last year or so Swarthmore has been her first choice, and I am glad to say that she visited and liked two or three of her "safety" or "likely" schools and a similar number of match schools. Swarthmore is a reach, but hopefully not a stratospheric one. And I've often told her that given the list she has compiled, she could be happy at any of the schools she has chosen, and she agrees with that.
Anyway, that's our situation, and I just wanted you all to know how much I've been appreciating this group.

By Rhonda63 (Rhonda63) on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 10:51 am: Edit

Welcome! It sounds like you and your child have a very good sense of humor about all this, which should make the process fairly painless!

I know there are people here with kids at Swartmore (Achat, Interesteddad) who I'm sure would be happy to help you if they can.

By Achat (Achat) on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 11:07 am: Edit

Welcome too. You'll get your answers on this board whether it is about Swarthmore or any other college in the US. Lots of parents and kids...
You've found the right place to get information and help about any subject pre-application, post-application or post-sending-your-kids-away. For very Swarthmore-specific questions, there is also the Swarthmore forum under the 'Individual Schools', 'Liberal Arts Colleges' category. As well for other schools in her list.

By Voronwe (Voronwe) on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 11:32 am: Edit

Welcome, and what a great post! It's time the whole NATION got a sense of humor about all this!
Just a tiny note - this is the world's best message board, and often people get very passionate; often they move from the premise of an original post and wax poetic, philosophical, or political; they engage in all kinds of speculation.....and sometimes the OP gets angry, or takes it personally, imagining that EVERY post is a personal attack or remark. Never let this get to you - it's part of the fun to range all over the place!

By Interesteddad (Interesteddad) on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 11:32 am: Edit


Your situation sounds so familiar. My daughter identified Swarthmore as her "dream" school very early on in the process (before 11th grade), but considered it to be too much of a reach to pin all her hopes in that direction. She proceded to put together a list of matches and likelies, with two or three that she found really attractive in different ways.

Assuming that your daughter's stats and transcript are "in the range" for Swarthmore, I would offer five pieces of advice:

1) If it's her first choice school, she's probably a good "fit" for Swarthmore.

2) Swarthmore puts a lot of emphasis on applicants who are a good "fit" and who can articulate specific reasons for their excitement.

3) Take advantage of the opportunity for her to do an overnight visit in October, attending a couple of classes, meeting with campus groups or touring science labs or whatever may be of interest to your daughter. This visit will give your daughter ammunition for a good "Why Swarthmore?" Essay (and help her start the important mental transition from high school kid to college student).

4) Read the "The Meaning of Swarthmore" essays on the school website. Collectively, these are a goldmine of information about what makes the school tick.

5) Read "The Gatekeepers" about liberal arts college admissions. Then, help your daughter focus her application to emphasize one or two key experiences/interests and present a clear "identity" that the admissions officers can latch onto.

By Voronwe (Voronwe) on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 11:44 am: Edit

Interesteddad - you are so right, esp. #5. It is so sad to see kids turn in these HUGE laundry lists of activities (look at some of the posts in the kids' forum) - dozens of things. When I was interviewing for an Ivy, I hated it. Kids actually said they joined so many things because it "would look good for college applications!"
(I also had a really hard time with the kids who just wanted a top school, but couldn't name any unique program, professor, or whatever that would attract them to MY Ivy rather than any other school! Nor could they think of any way that the Ivy would benefit from having them!)

Kids get mad, though, when I tell them to pare down their activity lists to maybe 4 things MAX, with an essay that links two of them - again MAX -to an overall, integrated vision.....

By Katwkittens (Katwkittens) on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 12:08 pm: Edit

Hello, Hello Searchingavalon !!!! My DD is also a high school senior this year, so we are right there with you. This wonderful board/site has helped my two oldest, who are now in college enormously. And have been a great source of support and resource throughout the years for me. Unlike you, I however, have 5 kiddos, 3 still in high school. These boards have helped with all sorts of things especially the stuff in high school.

Welcome, enjoy and you will soon hear your DD saying "hey mom, what do your friends on CC say about__________?" I must hear it once a day. But hey with 5 of them, that's not bad.

And again, HELLO!!!!

By Soozievt (Soozievt) on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 12:22 pm: Edit

Welcome! I am really glad you introduced yourself. You have come to the right place. There is a wealth of information here. Beyond that, the sharing of experiences is so valuable that it is not like anything you can find anywhere else such as in a book or even in your own community as there are perspectives and experiences here from all over the place. As this process can feel overwhelming, it is also nice to have this supportive group of people who are all going through the same thing!

I have been on these forums for two years now. I began when my oldest started the process at the beginning of her junior year (not as early as your daughter) and she just began her first year at Brown. Now, I have another daughter two years younger than the first but she is graduating a year early and so she is applying to colleges this fall as well. So, no end in sight for me for a bit.

I like your daughter's approach and it is similar in ways to how my D went about it and I am grateful that she found several schools where she felt she would be happy to attend. While a handful were more preferable over others on the list, they all were schools she liked. But I was glad, given she was going for some very selective schools, that she did not feel it HAD to be one certain school. My second child started the process wanting one specific school, but after a comprehensive college visit the past few days at another favorite, realized she liked it as much as the first loved school and this is a good thing in my view.....because there is less set up for disappointment and there are various scenarios of a happy ending hopefully.

So, join in and let us know how it is going and ask questions as there are some very knowledgeable and helpful parents on this forum.


By Carolyn (Carolyn) on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 12:33 pm: Edit

Welcome! How nice of you to introduce yourself. I'm sure you'll find a great group of people here.

By Kissy (Kissy) on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 01:48 pm: Edit

Hello, Avalon! I ditto the remarks the other posters made about the helpful and friendly posters here. CC has helped me through the college maze with one child so far- two more to go!

By Songman (Songman) on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 02:08 pm: Edit

Welcome-this is the place to get the lowdown as they say. I should warn you though about becoming is serious.I am thinking of going to Betty Ford's for help!You only make it to recovery long after your kid graduates!

By Achat (Achat) on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 02:11 pm: Edit

Probably never..this place is also an insomniac's dream!

By Fredo (Fredo) on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 07:09 pm: Edit

I'll add my welcome - this is a very supportive group and never think that any question is too stupid, useless, etc. to ask about. I came late in the process to this forum (my daughter is a college freshman) but I've got a sophomore son who will be more of a challenge for finding the right school (think good solid student + incredibly lazy attitude + no strong EC's + inability to write essays + wants to play D III golf + incredibly lazy attitude, oh, I mentioned that one, didn't I?) and I'll be here for years seeking answers and support.

By Momof2inca (Momof2inca) on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 10:13 pm: Edit

I have a son who's a senior. Tried to get him interested in LACs such as Swarthmore but he wants urban and university. I just love the idea of LACs though, especially since reading about some of the experiences parents have shared over the past year that I've been reading this board. We'll be visiting five universities back east during our fall break in mid-October. This board is great so welcome! -- Momof2 in CA

By Patient (Patient) on Wednesday, September 22, 2004 - 10:29 pm: Edit

Momof2inca...I thought too that LACs sounded wonderful. Each type (research u. versus LAC) has something special to offer. My son was a bit torn between the two types and in the end location, more research opportunities, and athletics won out, but I think he could have been happy at either. I can certainly see one of my daughters at an LAC, but that's looking too far ahead right now.

Searchingavalon, what a nice introduction. You are arriving about the time I am leaving. Yes, I AM going to BREAK THIS ADDICTION...I AM, REALLY!! One of these days!! (anyone know any internet addiction treatment facilities?)

By Searchingavalon (Searchingavalon) on Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 08:34 am: Edit

What a warm welcome! Thank you. Interesteddad, I'm very grateful for your five suggestions and am following them to the letter. I've figured out how to access the two books you mentioned, and love the idea of focusing D's ECs/interests rather than laundry-listing them. I found some time in her schedule for an overnight and she'll call tomorrow to make the arrangements. (Since she has the day off from school, we figured it was also a good day to start an essay.)Achat, I've checked the Swarthmore and other message boards; they are indeed a goldmine of information. The warning about not taking every disagreement as a personal attack is one I shall try to take to heart, in many contexts. Unfortunately, though, the warnings re addiction come too late; I love it here.

By Dadofsam (Dadofsam) on Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 01:00 pm: Edit

Momof2inca: As an interesting hybrid, you might look at some of the smaller universities in the east that are located in urban areas. They proved research opportunities but have more of the feel of an LAC, with smaller classes. We did that; our S has just started at one of them, Brandeis, outside Boston. Other good ones depending on your S's interests and your finances are Tufts, Carnegie-Mellon, Case-Western Reserve, Rochester, Lehigh, and Washington-St. Louis. (Okay, St. Louis is in the Midwest)

By Momof2inca (Momof2inca) on Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 03:55 pm: Edit

Thanks, DadofSam. Rochester is one of the 8 he's applying to, as are George Washington and Chicago. All three offer good political science/econ programs and merit aid, which is a definite consideration for us. Momof2 in CA

By Alongfortheride (Alongfortheride) on Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 05:16 pm: Edit

Hi Searchingavalon. I think I'm going to like your style! A good sense of humor is one of my favorite personality traits. I've found that people who can laugh often have the best perspectives. I look forward to reading yours.

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