NOTE: I received this email from a college advisor who "nailed it" so well that I could not have said it better. And it's ugly. By Andy Lockwood
Fair warning, this is a bit of a “mini-rant.” So if you’re thin skinned, I suggest that you scroll to the bottom and click “unsubscribe.”
But I need to get this off my chest, because it’s been going on for far too long…
...and it’s hurting our kids’ futures.
Be honest - we choose colleges for the dumbest reasons. Just because a particular college “went deep” in the NCAA tournament, or is in The South, or happens to be festooned on the rear window stickers of cars in your neighborhood, does NOT mean that it’s a “good school.”
Even US News & World Report rank is seriously flawed - not to mention easily manipulatable. I wish guidance counselors would explain this to their students - and parents.
The next gripe has to do with getting our kids’ hopes up about their chances of admission at top colleges. It’s easy - and, frankly, a bit lazy - to use a tool like Naviance and proclaim, “These are your Safeties, Targets and Reaches.” How helpful is this?
You be the judge. Naviance factors two things: academic credentials (grades and standardized test scores) and how your child stacks up compared to his/her peers from that high school.
However, academic credentials are weighted approximately 60% (!) in the overall admissions decision. In other words, Naviance ignores 40% of the elements that admissions officers examine. How comfortable can you feel?
College admissions is more marketing than meritocracy!
Even if you don't like it.
Even if it's "not fair."
The other fatal flaw is that your kid is facing competition from all over the world, not merely from your particular high school. I know you and your kids are curious about where you stand, but how are you supposed to rely on this microscopic amount of information?
You're competing with thousands of kids with the same grades and scores, Naviance shows you a handful of them, artificially chosen.
Problem 3 is that most kids - and parents - don’t have a serious college planning discussion until late in 11th grade, when they have “The Meeting” with their guidance counselor (and walk out with the same list of colleges as the family who met with her before them).
My issue is that kids start creating their “body of work” that admissions officers will judge as early as 9th grade. By the time you meet with your guidance counselor, at least half of the choices and decisions about classes, extracurricular activities, what to do over the summer and so forth will already have been made. Whoops!
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing individual guidance counselors, although I know that many will take what I’ve written this way. Guidance counselors are part of the system, but most of them are hard working, they have far more to do than meet with kids about college, and most genuinely mean well.
Look, I listed only three problems here, I didn’t get into financial aid, scholarships, college essays, negotiating with colleges and a LOT more stuff that needs to be addressed.