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New York City
April 2002

From the Superintendent’s Seat

The Time for College Decisions
By Dr. Carole G. Hankin with Randi T. Sachs

“April is the cruelest month.” Whoever thought that T.S. Eliot was referring to college acceptance letters? In early April, high school seniors and their parents await the mail each day with anticipation and hesitation. Will the envelope from the college of their choice be fat, or will it be thin?

For this generation, a college education is almost a given. But the question of where a student receives that education has great importance to many seniors and their parents. In any case, April is the time when students are faced with making a decision. For very high achievers, it may mean choosing between a number of top colleges and weighing the scholarship offers against the reputation of the school or the specific programs it offers. But even for students whose grades are not tops, the decision is no less daunting, as they consider not only academic reputation and courses, but location, size, social opportunities, and many other factors.

Given the high measure of emotions that are in the air in April, it’s not surprising that parents of students much younger are affected as well. Our district recently held for the first time a workshop for parents of elementary school students. The topic was “College Advisement,” and it was given by the administrative staff of the high school.

“You have all taken the most important steps to ensuring your child will be well prepared for college,” they were told. “First, you are residents of a school district in which virtually every one of our graduates goes immediately on to college after high school. Second, you are here tonight, which means that you are involved and interested in your child’s education.”

It is the absolute truth. Students from Syosset are admitted to the nation’s very finest colleges and universities, including the Ivy League schools. Yet, the parents in attendance wanted further reassurance that when it came time for their children to apply for college, they would not have to go through the worry that they saw their friends and neighbors experiencing.

However, there are some things that we cannot control, no matter how much we care. The best parents can do is to keep involved and interested in their children’s schoolwork. Colleges do place a great deal of importance on a student’s taking a challenging course, which means one in which the student exceeds minimum requirements—not necessarily all honors and AP classes, but as many as are appropriate for the individual student. Parents can also help by giving their children encouragement and support to pursue the subjects that interest them, both inside and out of the classroom.

At a college information session for Brown University, the admissions officer stated the following to a room packed with hopeful parents and students. “There is usually no reason that a student is not accepted at Brown. Almost all of our applicants are top students with excellent grades, tests scores, and recommendations. But there is always a reason that a student is accepted. And that reason is different in every case.”

Although it may be hard to believe, the good news is that students just about always find their college experiences fully enjoyable and very worthwhile. After a few months, most students report that they are very happy with their choice, even if it was not their original first selection, and they wouldn’t change even if they had the opportunity.

For those of you who are experiencing April as the cruelest month, take heart. May is just around the corner.#

Dr. Hankin is the Superintendent of the Syosset School District in Long Island.


Education Update, Inc., P.O. Box 20005, New York, NY 10001. Tel: (212) 481-5519. Fax: (212) 481-3919. Email: ednews1@aol.com.
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