The College Admissions Guessing Game

The subjectivity of college admissions, combined with the unpredictability of the future, parents and graduating high school seniors, are making (sometimes) educated guesses about college often imbued with expectation and clouded by emotion regarding the value—often complex to define—of a college education.

To value a college education, families must be as candid as possible. Additionally, each family member must willingly challenge their assumptions, possibly tempering expectations, when listening to all vested parties. Not. A. Simple. Task. 

And, further complicating the valuation process, students and parents mistake misinformation and urban legend garnered through their social networks, as truths, which are plentiful in the increasingly distorted  belief that a college degree is the ONLY effective route to financial stability, fueling the craving for college to a frenzy

Then, believing applying to one college over another can seem like either untold riches or abject poverty, students herd, exponentially inflating application pools of elite or trendy universities, only statistically driving down admit rates (as constrained by the law of supply & demand), only further fueling the frenzy. 

Furthermore, discussing motivations for choosing a college education can include parents reflecting on why they expect their student to attend college, and a student expressing their own expectations for college. Any differences between parents’ and students’ views can create tension, which will inevitably need to be resolved in creating consensus. 

Also, after 12 years of prescribed classes and mimicking rubrics to earn high grades, teenagers are likely lacking self-awareness as well as a process to inventory their lives. Parents, although well-intentioned, can be biased in their views of their kid, thus less effective in guiding their teenager’s self-reflection. Counselors and teachers, taxed by large caseloads, are less available to help each individual. 

Yet, as partners in the quest for higher education, teenagers and parents need a willingness to candidly and consistently discuss their views about higher education. Objective counsel, who understand the current state of higher education, as well as the complex transition families navigate when teenagers graduate high school, can moderate such tricky discussions, as well as advise families about their choices. 

Otherwise, families increase the probability of malinvesting $150,000-$200,000 in a college degree at a time when Millennials and Gen Z’ers are projected to earn less in their lifetimes than their parents. Thus families should courageously look beyond trendy colleges, to find the diamond in the rough, not compromising the prosperity of their children in the process. 

For over twenty years, Creative Marbles experts have moderated family conversations regarding complex educational decisions, lending our expertise to reduce the risk of malinvestment. For more information, contact us.

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About Jill Yoshikawa, Ed M, Partner of Creative Marbles Consultancy

Jill Yoshikawa, EdM, Harvard ’99, a seasoned, 25 year educator and consultant, is meticulous in helping clients navigate all aspects of the educational experience, no matter the level of complexity. She combines educational theory with experience to advise families, schools and educators. A UCSD and Harvard graduate, as well as a former high school teacher, Jill works tirelessly to help her clients succeed.
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