Parenting for College readiness

Today and tomorrow, I’m attending an ACT conference and it’s patently clear that parent involvement is a critical element in college-readiness and success. College admissions staff are getting more savvy in their efforts to reach parents early in the college search process and stay in touch with parents during the college years.

In a session today led by a former Dean of Admissions, admissions officers in the audience shared that they are introducing parent newsletters, parent pages on their websites, and parent-only sessions during campus visits. Two of the colleges recognized for their parent pages were Baylor University in Texas and Elmira College in New York. The colleges are recognizing that college selection is the number one way that parents are engaged with their child. It is very common for parents of this millenial generation to research college websites, visit campuses, and contact the admissions office.

There was a point in the discussion where it seemed that the presenter suggested that admissions staff should accept that parents will attend admissions interviews. I strongly disagreed with any hint of such a practice. It’s OK for the admission staff to make some accomodations. However, it’s the student who will be attending the university and not the parent. The admissions interview should be an opportunity for the admissions staff to get to know the student and learn more about what he/she will bring to the campus and how the campus may support their success. If the student has to co-interview with a parent, then how can they ever be able to thrive independently in college.

Parents, would you really want to attend the interview with your child? What about a job interview?

Quidditch and NCAA. . . really?

A few weeks ago, I attended a boarding school’s information session for prospective students. It was interesting to hear how their questions differed markedly from those at the parent session, happening simultaneously. One student asked if the school offered a quidditch club. The quick-witted admissions officer promptly stated, “We don’t but you could start one!” Nice . . .

Later that afternoon, I overheard some boys chuckling about the quidditch question. Well, who would have ever thunk that a Harry Potter-inspired sport that started a short three years ago, is now an NCAA sport? Quidditch is played at the high school and college level. Check out the story here at!

Job openings and the impact on your Child

When was the last time you checked the openings in your district? You may not be looking for a job opening for yourself. However, the available employment opportunities in your district (or a college that you’re interested in applying to) can give a clue to the cultural climate of that campus.

I am registered on several list services that post current job openings. For a listing that I received today, there were “multiple faculty openings” at a university in an adjoining state. Some questions raised for me after seeing 15+ openings . . . What’s going on in these departments? Is the campus going through a growth spurt? Have faculty recently retired or been denied tenure? What will be the average class sizes while the search is being conducted? How will students be involved in the hiring the new faculty members? How long are these searches expected to last?

As part of the research that K-12 parents do each year when they’re looking into schools, it is a great idea to look at the  job openings. Similar questions can be asked at the district level, such as How will my child’s schedule change while a position is being filled? How will substitute teachers be supported? How will the course offerings change? How will parents be notified when new prospective administrators are being considered? How long is the search anticipated to take? What input will be taken from parents/community in the hiring process, particularly for a high-profile role such as chief academic officer or superintendent?

These series of questions can be used to help families manage expectations for their child’s academic experience. The answers to these questions may also provide clues to the climate of an educational setting. In short, if there is a lot of craziness going on with the adults in teaching or administrative roles, it will impact your child at the classroom level.