This should be the week when parents of high school seniors are all proudly sporting college decals in car windows. But rather than basking in a sense of relief and celebration many are driving to work with the added stress of parenting a child who has been waitlisted by their first, and even second, choice school. The May 1st deposit deadline required decisions and non-refundable checks in a year when waitlists have ballooned. The University of California system alone listed 10,000 names for the class of 2014 on its first-ever waitlist.
Mix more students applying to a greater number of schools with concerns about finances and filling classes and the pressure is ratcheted up. Enrollment trends have risen dramatically and are not projected to drop. What can you do to ease the stress that some of your employees may be feeling? Employers are in no position to change the college admission process, but they can take the opportunity to offer resources to alleviate some of the stress and provide valuable information.
Host a College Consultant
Hold a lunch time session or series to demystify the process and share tips and techniques. A longer program can mirror the calendar for parents of juniors who are just beginning to tour campuses, and help guide them through senior year application deadlines. Betsy Woolf of Woolf College Consulting describes her role as a resource for college applicants and their families, sharing the most up-to-date information with groups or personally guiding each student and family she works with through the process. The external expert alleviates stress and anxiety by creating a road map directed by someone other than a nagging parent.
Finding a College Consultant
College consultants or counselors can be part of a team from a large company, or they may be local sole proprietors. However, Woolf expresses concern about the number of people who “just hang up a shingle and announce, I got my kid into Harvard and I can get yours in too.” She recommends seeking out consultants who are members of professional associations including, HECA, IECA, and NACAC. These memberships demonstrate a seriousness of purpose and should be combined with a track record of visiting schools and attending industry conferences.
The best consultants use this wealth of knowledge, including firsthand experience on many more college campuses than can ever be seen during one spring break, to save hours and effort for clients. Employees will undoubtedly spend time at their desk setting up college tours and visits; an expert can hone the list and add value and instruction to maximize every trip.
Spread the Word
In-house programs can be augmented by articles and announcements about panel discussions and presentations in your area. The parents in one high school district can benefit by spending some time in the auditorium of another to hear from three college admissions representatives. Look for the topic to be covered by local libraries and community organizations who may host annual informational events.
Plan now to extend this valuable, cost-effective benefit for parents of the high school class of 2012 and beyond. You should be able to set up a one-time session for free, and even a lunchtime series will pay for itself by targeting efforts and avoiding misinformation. When you host these college-readiness events, remember that refreshments are always a good idea; door prizes that include university sweatshirts are not encouraged.