The PSAT results should be in your mailbox as we speak, and the first round of testing in the past. Mailboxes across the country will now become miniature holding cells for all the material and literature colleges spend thousands of dollars on. Thousands of dollars to entice the consumer who might not understand the real reason behind the marketing.
Each day the excitement will grow and you can’t wait to see which of the 4000 colleges are waiting for you. BE CAREFUL! The marketing campaigns begin as soon as your student checks the box on the PSAT, yes your student has agreed to receive the influx of what will eventually become recycled brochures lying around the house, or piles of catalogues depicting fall foliage, or winter wonderlands suffocating the dining room table. I highly recommend a celebration with all the glossy books on May 1 with a grand bonfire. Some students start with a box in their room, and by the end of the application process they have enough to wallpaper their entire house, or decoupage for life.
If you aren’t careful getting caught up in colleges that have no business hanging out in your little cell is detrimental to the well-being of your very soul, and your family’s. The fact that Williams, Pomona, or UC Chapel Hill will be mailing you brochures if your GPA is under a 3.5 is somewhat alarming, as those schools are extremely competitive for a variety of reasons. Most of the time colleges are purchasing targeted lists, but it still causes much confusion. Another issue is when colleges send you FREE to apply materials, and yes it will be free. Ask yourself why? The real answer is to increase the number of applicants so they have higher margins for competitive reasons, and less student’s will actually be accepted. When you apply to these FREE schools, you are playing into the statistics, and most of the time your child doesn’t really want to attend that school.
My advice is to rule out any colleges that are too far or too close for you, look at the majors they offer and dismiss if not applicable. If you are looking at schools for just the name alone (that’s another conversation and it could be the complete wrong fit), and lastly, research the average GPA and test scores; this information is critically important in comparison to your student’s achievement.
As the snail mail increases, the inboxes of your son/daughter’s email will become unbearable and just as complex. Since their brains are still underdeveloped they often see things and automatically delete; NO-Wait. They do need to read it first, and determine what category it goes in, and then file, or delete. Creating a separate email account for all things college has worked for the majority of my clients, and eases their already crowded brain. One client lost out on a major opportunity because she hit delete! For the parents, let your student own the search, let them target schools they are interested in for many reasons, and avoid the overwhelming desire to discuss/highlight every brochure and email. I assure you the mailbox will stand mighty, and so will you.