University of Virginia

#ThursdayThoughts

  1. Have you read the newest on Sidwell from The Atlantic? Sigh.

  2. UVA has now released their 2019-2020 supplemental essays! I knew they’d be coming soon, but I didn’t anticipate them quite this soon. Regardless, I’m happy, because they didn’t change very much from last year.

  3. A lot of kids will need to be able to write about a book for the first UVA essay (I personally think that’s the easiest way to approach that prompt). I suggested some options here back in January but will do another post soon about some new summer releases. In the meantime, I’m just loving this throwback from The New York Times. So many fun memories associated with reading some of these.

  4. Southwest is having my favorite sale of the year! There are a ton of round-trip options from the DC area under $100 - perfect for college visits all over the country. The reason I love booking Southwest for my own college visits is because of their cancellation policy, which makes everything so much easier. I don’t have to stress about whether the dates will work or if something is likely to come up. If something comes up, I just cancel.

  5. I can’t believe this is the last full week of the school year. CRAZY! We are getting so booked up for August and are in the process of adding additional essay coaching meetings for kids that want even more support. We just added a few Sunday afternoon slots with Alan earlier today.

Coming Home to Stay

I recently came across The New York Times article When a College Student Comes Home to Stay and felt it necessary to add my two cents, given my experience working with so many families and students over the years.

In previous generations, everyone looked forward to college. Arrival on campus for freshman orientation represented freedom, new friends, and a major step towards adulthood. Today, the lead-up to college has spiraled out of control, and arrival on campus represents so much more: a sought-after prize that justifies a decade (or more!) of sacrifice.

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As students work tirelessly to perfect their college essays and try desperately to increase their ACT scores following years and years of pressure, they often can’t help but develop very unrealistic expectations about the end goals that they are trying to achieve with so much hard work. This idealized version of college certainly doesn’t leave room for imagining days caught in the rain without an umbrella, courses with terrible professors, evenings missing family and friends from home, or poor scores earned during the first round of exams.

When the bad days come - and there will be bad days, even at Harvard - students are stunned and surprised. They often start thinking something is wrong with them or that they cannot handle college altogether.  95% of the time, nothing is wrong at all; they are simply experiencing the ups and downs of daily life. Because this happens so often, I find it increasingly important to guide families during the college application process to maintain a realistic viewpoint, and I encourage parents to have discussions with their children about the realities of college and the “real world.”  

The better perspective these students bring with them to their freshman year of college, the less likely they will feel as if the world is crashing down around them when they are no longer in the top 10% of their class, get their first C in a course, or aren’t getting along with their roommate. 

Of course, there are also situations when something more serious is at play. Should a student come home from a break or their first year and not want to return, or transfer to another school, all is not lost.  Here at DC College Counseling, we not only serve high school students and their families that are embarking on the college application process for the first time, we also enjoy working with students who would like to transfer to a better-fit school.  Every year we assist students from a variety of backgrounds who were unhappy with their first college selection.  

Many of our clients are interested to learn that countless schools, such as UVA, have much higher acceptance rates for transfer students than incoming freshmen.  In fact, we find that students who do transfer schools often have better and more options available to them than when they applied to college during high school.  No matter what your family seeks or needs, always know that many options exist and we are here to help.