After 16 years of working with high school students to get them into their first-choice colleges, I am still astounded by the nonsense I hear from some parents.
In a meeting with a family recently, a mother claimed that because her daughter was so talented, works so hard, is president of her class, is a straight-A student, that she - ready for this? and I'm quoting - "DESERVES to be admitted to Harvard."
I wanted to reach for a brown paper bag and gag.
Luckily I didn't have to embarrass myself in front of the entire family.
I proceeded to waste my time by telling the mother that her daughter could qualify to get into Harvard, but Harvard doesn't admit based on hard work, talent, and great grades.
The father spoke up and told his wife the daughter only had a 5% chance of getting in. His wife wasn't buying it. In frustration, I told the mother that I wasn't for hire because I refuse to work with parents who have an agenda about their kids (read: To validate themselves through their children).
If you're like her, please don't call me. If you do call, I promise to be polite and brief.
Point? Some parents can be totally clueless, if not harmful to their kids.
Students, on the other hand, usually don't have the same agenda as mom and/or dad. If they are excellent students, they always - at least with me - indicate that they want to attend a right-fit college, and if it's NOT a high-profile and a very selective school, they are okay with that.
When a student gives me this kind of response, I always ask the parent, "Have you hugged your child today?"
Over the years, my students have taught me that their instincts can be trusted and that the instincts of the parents cannot.
Parents bring too much baggage to the thoughts of college, and thoughts, which are more like impressions, are all they have.
And the impressions reflect on their own experience, which is at least 30 years-old.
Are 30-year-old impressions a fair yardstick of what a college is like today?
Students have no baggage, and when counseled by the right people, such as yours truly, they're on their way to making good decisions.
If you have a talented student who doesn't know what s/he wants to do with her or his life, the right help is available. You can start here.