Help Your Aspiring College Student!
July-August Black Excel Newsletter
This July-August edition of the Black Excel Newsletter will begin with a new series of help Q & A's on our counseling ideas/strategies that have helped students get into an "honor roll" of colleges and universities across the US.
We are hopeful that these "special" editions will be circulated to our students, parents, mentors, and educators as an ongoing counseling tool. -Isaac Black, Founder Black Excel: The College Help Network (www.BlackExcel.org).
Question: What Should Parents Be Doing with Regard to the Application Process?
Black Excel Founder:
Parents have asked me this or a variation of this question for as long as I have been formerly counseling students. Sadly, a majority of those who have inquired over the years had no idea what they should be doing or had misconceptions about their role. The unfortunate truth is that large numbers of our students are "picking their colleges" and handling the "application process" by themselves. Parental involvement, far too often, is minimal. For example, it's not unusual to meet aspiring students who are applying to colleges who are gathering college applications and filling them out without help at home. A parent might know that their child is "applying to college," encouraging it, but is not hands-on at all. Clearly, many parents assume that their child and/or a grade adviser is "taking care of it." It's an alarming pattern that I often see. That said, I am saddened to say that many parents have never looked at or critiqued the personal essays that are required with many applications. The essay is a potent force in "getting in," particularly to a "first choice" school. I can't say this enough: Parents should be involved in the process, playing a substantial role.
Question: What Specifically Should Parents Be Doing?
When I began helping students the first rule that I established for my group was that we would counsel as if it were "a son or daughter." Nothing less. I didn't let my child fend for herself. She was ready and capable, but the "next step" for her was as important as my own prior career moves. That was my attitude. Over the years I've had the opportunity to speak to many parents of other cultures. Well, guess what? They often treat the college process with regard to their child (picking schools, readying an application, critiquing the necessary essays), as if it's "life and death." Literally. I can't phantom why a parent of color (or anyone) should be on the sidelines or asleep. If this is one of our child's major life's decisions, why shouldn't we be playing a substantial role?
- Help gather college materials (catalogs and applications) Why not?
- Review your child's college applications, noting requirements and deadlines.
- Review your child's written comments about extracurricular activities, awards, special achievements, etc. Can your child's approach and presentation be improved? (Why not provide blank paper or dummy copies to create drafts?)
Why do all this? Or lend a helping and encouraging hand? Because the application will serve as your child's "personal
- Read and/or listen to your child's essay in progress? Is it effective? Does it present your child to his or her best advantage?
profile," and it's a key step in the evaluation process from an admission's committee perspective.
Step Into The Light!
Some things you should be discussing with your child:
In a nutshell, there should be ongoing dialogue.
- Where to apply (rankings, state, private, HBCUs)
- Size ("Big Pond or Little Pond")
- Location (Urban, rural)
- The "social scene" (diversity issues)
- Money matters
- Tours, college visits (open houses, orientations)
- Graduation rates and retention facts, academic environment (study intensity, support systems).
"Do you spend more time talking to car salesmen at dealerships than you do helping your child get into college? The answer should be 'NO!' "
Question: "Shouldn't my child be responsible and mature with regard to handling his or her college business? And, if s/he isn't, isn't that his/her life?"
Even the most capable, inspired, and talented student needs backup and mentoring. For our folks, I am sad to say, the "rules of engagement" (that is, what to do for maximum impact and to beat the odds) is not readily available or known. Misconceptions abound about college and the "admissions process." One expert says it's "a logistical challenge." He also adds, "This isn't the time to allow your child to learn from his mistakes." I agree. You all know the saying, "You can lead a horse to water..." I believe you should lead your child "to water" and, if necessary,
push him or her out in a boat. You'll be surprised how many
"lackadaisical" or "unfocused" childen will then begin to row for themselves. Parents should get involved.
Question: But what about students without capable
parents, guardians, mentors, and/or resources?
Yes, there are many students who are going it alone, for whatever reason. It's a fact. Over the years I have worked with
hundreds of "first generation" college-bound students. Often,
in their homes there is little experience or knowledge about the
process. In many single-parent homes, daunting odds stare the family in the face. Making matters worse, some grade advisors have unmanageable caseloads (one counselor for 500+ students is not usual at some urban high schools). Honestly, there are college advisors who are not that good. Many know little about HBCUs, for example. Others route smart students to "average" or "mediocre" schools and give students who "need a second chance" virtually no counseling or support. The solution?
It's important to point students and parents who need help to resources like Black Excel: The College Help Network.
There's a wealth of info at the website (www.BlackExcel.org).
(See my bio below). Also my college Guide, has been hailed as "counseling tutorial" and "motivational force." The noted gateways are invaluable.
Question: What about future editions of this newsletter?
In the next edition I will talk about "Picking Colleges" and in
followup issues I will discuss "Aid and Scholarships," the SAT,
essay strategies, other pivotal topics. The overall theme of
all these newsletters will be to give you info on how to present your child/student to "Best Advantage" during the admissions process. You'll learn how to "Get the Money," "Get into Your First Choice School," and more.
Isaac Black's Bio
Isaac is the Founder of Black Excel: The College Help Network (www.BlackExcel.org). He is also the author of the Black Excel African American Student's College Guide (John Wiley & Sons), available at Amazon.com and Black Expressions Book Club (Heritage and Culture section)* and major bookstores. Isaac has been a keynote speaker for the College Board (NYC), and has lectured at college fairs, high schools, and universities such as Howard (for the Urban League) and Harvard.
To order the Black Excel African American Student's College Guide at stores use ISBN: 0471295523
Black Excel has the TOP SCHOLARSHIP gateway for minority students on the Internet. Thousands of scholarships are presented. Go to: http://www.BlackExcel.org/link4.htm
Help Your Aspiring Student....
*Don't ask, "Can your child get into Harvard, Spelman, U. of Michigan, Howard, or Yale!" The Black Excel African American Student's College Guide puts that answer at you fingertips. Get your copy by clicking here: Book Order Page.
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