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High School Hustle: Prep for college NOW!

Students who are lucky enough to have actual high school choices can attend open houses this week, where they’ll have a chance to weigh commutes, clubs, classes, homework and social life. Students who haven’t been matched, will be concentrating on where they might get accepted in Round 2.

Others will be thinking about college. Or perhaps they should be.

Wait, Already? After all, most of us who have gone through that second full-time job also known as the hunt for middle and high school may feel entitled to a recovery process, as I noted in my last post.

No such luck. I got another reminder of why living in the moment is not going to fly in today’s crazed admissions landscape when I attended a breakfast last week for a hilarious new book, entitled “The Neurotic Parent’s Guide to College Admissions,” by J.D. Rothman, who provides a tongue-in-cheek look at what she calls “the most difficult time to get into college in the history of the world.”

Starting in ninth-grade, she warns, is way too late.

“Today’s kids need to begin prepping for college by age 2, when they get admitted to a selective Mommy and Me group, which leads to the right pre-school,’’she notes in the book.

To be fair, Rothman is not talking about getting into community colleges, where nearly half of U.S. students are educated. Her book targets parents and students aiming for elite, top tier, four-year schools that boast impossibly low acceptance rates, “with more impressive resumes than Fortune 500 CEO’s,’’ her book jacket notes.

She is quick to remind parents why so many students can’t get in.

“Clearly it is all your fault,’’ Rothman warns. “While you were letting your child engage in normal activities like summer camp, babysitting, and bowling, other kids were interning for their senators, training seeing-eye dogs and starting hedge funds in Sri Lanka.”

So what does all this have to do with choosing a New York City public high school?

For students and parents making the transition from middle to high school, there is already way too much to think about. Nonetheless, what happens after graduation (providing students get that far) is important, and it’s not unrealistic to ask how well a high school prepares students for the expensive and arduous next step.

Insideschools would like to ask parents and students whose children are seniors or are graduating this year just how well their high school prepared them for the grueling college admissions process. Were there enough guidance counselors with plenty of time to discuss options? (In some of the larger city high schools, the answer is most likely a resounding "no"). Did they have advice on what schools might be a good fit, and help students and parents meet deadlines for exams and financial aid?

Did the school offer college nights and information sessions that helped? Did plenty of college admissions officers come to visit the school? Was preparation offered for the SAT and the ACT, and did the school explain the different testing options available? Did many of the seniors get into their top choices in recent years?

Finally, for graduates and their parents, did their New York City high school offer sufficient academic preparation for what came next? What high schools do the best job, and where is there room for improvement? And just how important should all of this be for parents making decisions this week?

 

Last modified on Tuesday, 06 March 2012 12:15

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