the Superintendent’s Seat
Time for College Decisions
Dr. Carole G. Hankin with Randi T. Sachs
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.
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.#
Hankin is the Superintendent of the Syosset School District in
Education Update, Inc., P.O. Box 20005, New York, NY 10001. Tel:
(212) 481-5519. Fax: (212) 481-3919. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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