College decisions

Seniors: It's Time to Say "Thank you!"

Now that you have your letters in hand and your decision made, take the time to inform all the people in your life who had a hand in your admission process about that decision. That includes the teachers who wrote recommendations, the high school college counselor who loaned you her College Board Handbook, the guidance counselor who advised you to take AP calculus, the English teacher who proofread your essays, the coach who wrote a letter to the athletic department, and the faculty advisor for the newspaper who encouraged you to write an editorial about the stress of applying to college. Let them know where you have decided to enroll and thank them for all they did to help you get there.

You can stop by their classroom or office to let them know in person, but a personal, hand-written thank you note is the most powerful and meaningful way to show your appreciation, according to Mark Moody, Co-Director of College Counseling at Colorado Academy -- and we agree! "Like many counselors, I have a folder full of them in my desk," he told us, "on rougher days, it's where we go to remember why we do this rewarding work in the college application trenches with you!"

Oh, and don’t forget a big thank-you for the people who have helped you get to this point for the last eighteen years . . . your parents.


April is the Craziest Month for Seniors and their Families

Jane Kulow, aka Dr. StrangeCollege, is back with advice for seniors and their families as application season nears the finish line of decisions. 


April is the craziest month.

T.S. Eliot may have called April the cruelest month, but for high school seniors that label might go to March. After the long autumn months of writing college applications and the cold winter months of awaiting a response (and hoping for the best), March delivers the stark reality of college admission decisions:  yes, no, or would you like to wait for a possible yes later (at very low odds)?

Which brings us to the craziness of April and the decisions seniors and their families face. Even when the student is accepted into his or her favorite school, most families will want to look closely at each of the colleges offering admission.

Closely, and quickly: the May 1 deadline for the student’s decision fast approaches.

Here’s what many senior households may wish to do this month:

Visit the campus

If you haven’t yet visited the campus, now’s the time to take a look, before anyone writes a deposit check. Virtual visits may be great, but they cannot convey the smell of the freshman dorm, the path from one end of campus to another, or the typical style of students at the school.

Or visit again

Seniors: No second guessing, no keeping score... and stay committed!

This week we have more great advice for seniors from Mark Moody, Co-Director of College Counseling at Colorado Academy

The most consistent message from our office to students in senior spring is, "Protect your community." Everyone is taking the first steps towards their own journey right now. Next year each of you will be in a place of your choosing, immersed in your own experience. Your opinions of others' choices, and their opinions of yours, aren't really relevant to those decisions. Support each other. Resist the temptation to keep score, or to try to second-guess the complicated, subjective, and unknowable processes by which admission committees arrived at their offers and denials. Don't take disappointment personally, and don't make it personal if someone you know was offered admission to a place you weren't. Enjoy your final weeks of high school, finish strong in the style you're known for, and stay committed to the activities and friendships that have sustained you until now!

Be Ready to Listen, Book Parents Weekend and more: Next Steps for Parents

As parents, we know that sometimes the best advice can come from fellow parents who have successfully navigated some developmental step or landmark -- or land mine -- in their children's lives. Here are two of the savviest moms we know -- Lisa Endlich Heffernan and Mary Dell Harrington of the excellent blog Grown and Flown -- on next steps for parents of seniors.


This is a moment to rejoice.  Your child was accepted to college and all of your effort and his have resulted in this success. There may be some small disappointments, there may euphoria and there may be some big decisions ahead, but this is one of life’s big moments and it should be noted and celebrated. Let your nearly grown child know just how proud you are and acknowledge how much of his effort it took to get to this moment. 

Once your family has taken a time to savor this special moment, there are a few more practical matters that need your 

Book the revisits.

Your child may be making a very real decision between two or more schools they have not seen in a year, or more.  See if the school has official revisit days when pre-frosh return for an organized program.  If such a program exists, make certain to book a place in the program and hotel reservations if needed.  If there is not official program, make plans for your teen to take another 

Seniors: No Double Depositing

May 1, the National Candidates Reply Date, is the deadline for formally notifying one college you will accept its offer of admission -- and sealing the deal with a check for the nonrefundable deposit.  Keep in mind that you have signed a certification on your application form promising you will send a deposit to only one institution.  Double- depositing— sending deposits to two or more schools in order to keep your options open— takes places away from other students.  Your acceptance letter is conditional, and it’s easier than you think for the colleges to find out if you have deposited at more than one institution. If you ignore your ethical obligation and send deposits in to more than one school, you run the risk of both colleges rescinding your admission.


Seniors: Everything You Need to Know about Wait Lists

The wait list is probably on the minds of a lot of students this week, so we're bringing you a recap of the next steps you should take if you've been waitlisted, as well as the round-ups of our expert advice on being waitlisted. If you're wondering whether or not to accept a spot on the wait list or move on or exactly how to make your case to a school where you're waitlisted, click on these links and read on… 


There are Lots of Ways to Get Where You're Headed

Mark Moody, Co-Director of College Counseling at Colorado Academy, joins us today in our continuing series of reflections, advice and practical guidance for students and parents on all things decisions -- from strategy, decision-making and coping through how to talk about your news with parents, friends and nosy neighbors. Read on to learn about one of the paths through your college decisions that leads to happiness -- and it's scientifically proven!



I remember opening the fat envelope from my first-choice college over twenty years ago. Nobody was home. I got so excited I ran around the living room screaming by myself. True story.

As it turned out, I didn’t go to that college. It was a far more expensive option than the college that offered me a scholarship, and attending that less expensive school was the compromise my parents and I agreed upon. At the time I felt like the universe was really unfair.

Twenty years later, so much of my life’s winding path connects back to seeds planted and passions discovered at my alma mater, which I would describe as having been so perfect for me that it’s laughable I felt so strongly about not attending my “first choice.” I know now that it was a place that probably would have been as good for me, but where I probably wouldn’t have started down pathways that are now essential parts of my identity.

Ice Cream, Exercise or New Shoes: Managing your Response to the College Decision

Jody Sweeney, Associate Director of College Counseling at Philadelphia's William Penn Charter School, joins us for our next installment of reflections, advice and practical guidance for students and parents on all things decisions -- from strategy, decision-making and coping through how to talk about your news with parents, friends and nosy neighbors. We like her advice -- "Check your gut." And we love some of her coping mechanisms! 


The envelope please: Whether it be thick or thin, or rather a peek online, the culmination of your college search is here. With May 1st as the National Candidates’ Reply date, it is just weeks until you finally choose where you will spend the next four years.

Decisions, decisions... Sound Bites, No Sympathy and Seizing the Moment for Parents

Beginning today and throughout the next week, we'll be posting reflections, advice and practical guidance for students and parents on all things decisions -- from strategy, decision-making and coping through how to talk about your news with parents, friends and nosy neighbors. We begin with the always excellent advice of psychologist Michael Thompson, author of The Pressured Child. We have always found Thompson's wisdom and sound bites to be indispensable for both turning points and moments of truth in our family life. We asked him how he got so smart about all of this -- and believe me, he is -- he told us, "Hey, I’ve been working with teenagers for forty-four years.  Some lessons they just insist you learn." Read on to benefit from those lessons so you can support your teenager and seize the moment -- in the best possible way.