Another resource that may be helpful is your school counseling staff.

We have a pretty good counselor at my kids' school, and a good ratio (she is helping about 60 kids in grade, and has some additional staff helping her). She was an admissions counselor at a top 20 LAC, so knows the ropes. That said, my D had the best results of the senior class last year, and we mostly "did it ourselves" (with a lot of CC help). My D got into U of Chicago, Swarthmore, Carleton, Harvey Mudd, Kenyon, Mt. Holyoke, Lawrence, and Macaleter -- every place she applied, no wait lists. Only one of those schools that offered merit aid did not give her any, too. Your school GC will be helpful, but they are not all you need. One area in particular where I think they are not usually strong is the finances side, which is a huge issue in the college search process today. I also think the GCs start kind of late. They don't really spend a lot of time with the junior class until very late in junior year because they are worried about getting the seniors into college -- a lot of your work should be done by that time as a parent/student duo.

We also know another bright, but not spectacular, somewhat nontraditional (older-- mid-20's) student who recently received a complete full-ride at Reed College

Reed does not offer any merit aid. If this student has a "full ride", it is either need based aid (certainly with some loans involved) or from an outside source that is not the college. No merit aid is one of the reasons my D did not apply there (not the only reason, but it was a factor).

One thing to note from HowlerMonkey's posts is to think about test scheduling. Most kids will want to take the SAT twice to try to get their best score. My D also took the ACT -- she actualy did very well with no prep other than one practice test the weekend before -- but her superscored SATs were slightly higher, so she used those. And if your kid is applying to top schools then most of those schools want at least two SAT Subject tests as well. And... my D was not happy with her first Math II subject test (required for Harvey Mudd), so she took that one twice. It adds up to a LOT of Saturdays for testing, and can get complicated with extra curricular activities -- my D said up front she did not want to miss Quiz Bowl state tournament or nationals for testing. It is also a really good idea to have almost all testing done by end of junior year. All my D had left to do fall of senior year was the repeat of the subject test. All of her visiting except two colleges was done by then, too. That meant she could focus in fall of senior year on her applications -- she knew where she was applying and what her odds of admission were because she knew her scores. A lot of kids are still visiting and testing in the fall -- try to avoid most of that by doing it early.

My D said to me recently that she is the only one of her friends who never cried over the college application and admissions process. smile Because we started early, had an organized search, and used a lot of outside resources to understand the landscape, she had the best results AND the least stressful search of all of her friends. It was long (kind of like a long presidential campaign!), but she says it was worth it to do it that way.

Last edited by intparent; 07/15/13 02:24 PM.