By Sue Stemen, Director of College Counseling
On Wednesday, March 24, Park Tudor juniors and their parents received important information on the college search and application process from a panel of nationally recognized experts. Ingrid Hayes, Vice President for Enrollment Management at Spelman College; DJ Menifee, Vice President for Enrollment at Susquehanna University; and Heath Einstein, Dean of Admission at Texas Christian University provided thoughtful insights into the process of admissions at their respective institutions. Topics highlighted included a discussion of holistic admissions - i.e. considering the “whole” student, from their academic performance to their activities and aspirations.
Park Tudor students are evaluated in the context of our community – that is, have students appropriately challenged themselves considering the offerings at PT? The panelists noted that “character counts” in their evaluation of the student and colleges are looking to build a community of learners that will contribute to the campus community in a variety of ways. Colleges rely on teacher and counselor recommendations to learn more about how a student learns, grows, and develops, and what role they play in a class, on a team or at home. The college essay is intended to give each student a “voice” in the process beyond the transcript and recommendations and is another way to illuminate character.
When asked about the “truths” in college admissions, the panelists agreed that there is no one perfect college. The good news is that there are many places to get an excellent undergraduate education. It is incumbent on each student to fully investigate the schools that fit their academic, social, and emotional needs. Here is an article that summarized the panel’s advice: https://www.forbes.com/sites/brennanbarnard/2021/03/25/college-admission-zombies-ideas-that-need-to-die/?sh=71c9abce3768&fbclid=IwAR3q1fsOWpxpREzs7qo39qcD5IonfWuWFA8DsZ5S3BooQETZ5Qa6PreHkKk
The panelists shared the importance of diversity on their campuses, from ethnic, religious, geographic and gender to diversity of thought, opportunity, and academic programs. They encouraged students to investigate the myriad of options at universities in their search, including reaching out to the college representatives to not only build a relationship, but to really educate themselves about the value of an undergraduate experience at each campus. Some colleges are allowing visitors on campus, but students may also get valuable information from online sessions, including tours, classes, and student panels. In finding a good “fit” school, students should not only consider location, size, cost, and academic fit, but also find a school that broadens their world view, challenges them to grow in new ways and think beyond the major.
Finally, the panelists strongly encouraged parents to support their children with love and understanding. Families need to have the hard conversations about the cost of college and family financial considerations early in the process to ensure a positive understanding of choices in the long run. Students often feel pressured to meet outside “expectations” to get into the “best” school possible, when that may or may not be the “best” school for them. Being clear on what types of schools are possible – based on location, cost, selectivity, etc. – from the outset goes a long way to preserving the important bond between parents and students.